She didn’t expect the trial to become a media circus. She’d never even heard of the plaintiff, Ellen Pao, or the defendant, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, before the first day of the trial. But Marshalette Ramsey, known as “Juror 2” in the high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, quickly learned.
The 41-year old transit manager from San Francisco spent the past five weeks with 11 other jurors hearing evidence in a case she didn’t yet realize was being followed by newspapers, websites and television stations around the world.
Pao had sued claiming gender discrimination and retaliation. After more than a month of testimony, the jury deliberated three days before voting in Kleiner Perkins’ favor on Friday.
Ramsey was one of only two jurors to vote in Pao’s favor on every claim she brought against the VC firm.
“I looked at how the men [at Kleiner Perkins] performed, and I wasn’t seeing differences huge enough to see it justify leaving Ellen Pao behind,” Ramsey said at the conclusion of the trial. “I also felt Ellen had been pigeonholed into a chief-of-staff role, and I believe that was to keep her in that position.”
When asked by a reporter whether she felt she may have been more sympathetic toward Pao because she herself is a woman, Ramsey said being a black woman, she “falls into a lot of those buckets,” but she didn’t feel sympathetic toward Pao per se. Rather, she felt that her own experiences gave her a better understanding of the existence of discrimination, and she identified Pao’s treatment as a form of gender discrimination.
Even though nine of the 12 jurors voted against Pao on all her claims, the trial wasn’t an open-and-shut case, and Ramsey said at times the vote came “very close.” One of the jurors, who took Kleiner’s side in the dispute, told Judge Harold Kahn that the trial was “arguably one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, without doubt.”
According to Ramsey, the jury was meticulous in its examination of evidence and testimonies, frequently asking for testimonies to be read back to them and asking Judge Kahn to clarify wording in the verdict form.
“We went into the jury room with totally different perspectives, and we hammered out all the little things, and we hammered out all the big things,” she said. “We looked at it over and over again, and nitpicked to come up with what we thought was the fairest verdict.”
She believes some jurors had made a decision early on about the character and credibility of certain witnesses, though, and that these decisions ultimately influenced how they voted.
Pao’s attorneys painted Kleiner Perkins as a boys club in which “men were judged by one standard and women by another.” Kleiner Perkins’ attorneys characterized Pao as a greedy underperformer with “sharp elbows.”
When the verdict was delivered, Kleiner Perkins’ attorneys sighed in relief and hugged each other. Pao and her team made a quick exit from the courtroom. Most of the jurors took Judge Kahn up on the offer to quietly exit through a back door to avoid the media. Ramsey stayed to talk.
“I think all of us were affected by it,” she said, referring to her fellow jurors. “I felt a real emotional connection to it. We didn’t rush to judgment. We sat there and hashed it out and hashed it out.”
She exhaled leaving the courthouse.
“I’m going home emotional.”