Lance Stott and Dax Garvin (disclosure: my professional roommates/suitemates, and personal friends) started two separate jury trials a few months ago on a Monday.

Let me digress a bit, and for the sake of clarity, define separate. Each individual lawyer represented one and only one client. They were not co-defendants. Their charges were not related in any way. They had never met each other.

Their cases were assigned to different courts, with separate prosecutors, judges, court reporters, etc., etc. The fact that both lawyer’s cases started the same day was a complete coincidence. There’s not some hidden secret there that will help explain the puzzle.

By Wednesday afternoon, both trials were finished. Now, to the riddle…

Defense lawyers talk of one-word verdicts (it’s a euphemism for a loss) and two-word verdicts (wooohooo!). AKA, “guilty” and “not guilty” if you want it literally spelled out.

In this instance, if you combined the number of words in all the verdicts in their cases, the total was two. Two words total, when added together. Seems like two bad results from the clients’ perspectives, eh?

Yet neither client was convicted. Solve away… (Answer now provided after the break)

Update/Answer: Thanks for playing, everyone. The answer is that 2 + 0 = 2.

One verdict of “not guilty” for two words + a mistrial for a total of zero more = two words total. D.A.C. guessed hung jury in the comments, so he got it right. In the actual example, one of the lawyers ran the panel on can’t-give-minimum-punishment, so a jury was never seated, but it was a mistrial either way.

A couple of IANALs guessed dismissed/dismissed and acquitted/acquitted, but those answers aren’t quite correct, since they aren’t verdicts. If not guilty/dismissed had been guessed, it probably would have received full credit, since dismissed isn’t a verdict, and that would still add up to 2. The state can theoretically dismiss a case with prejudice during trial.

Perhaps Bennett and Gamso will find the next one more intellectually stimulating. Perhaps.