At the start of this week I had the pleasure and pain of being called to serve as a juror…
The day started off easy and organized. Monday was a snow covered morning, so I was glad to trade my long commute to downtown for the less than three miles journey to the county courthouse.
A very positive start to the day.
I was impressed by the number of staff directing potential jurors through the county buildings. They were very well organized and prepared. The courtroom was warm and bright. At all times we were told what would take place in the next hour.
The judge was informal at the start. He explained the importance of being able to see and hear everything going on through out the day. He spoke for 20 or 30 minutes trying to detail what we could expect and if we were chosen to be on the jury and that the trial would take five to six days.
Then the judge thanked us several times and talked about the importance of serving as a juror. He has 17 years experience on the bench and believes in the system. He explained there would be 36 people randomly chosen out of the 150 in the room. And that the 12 serving on the jury would be selected from the 36.
I was one of the 36
As we sat in six rows of six, our names were put on a grid so the judge and the district and defense attorneys could easily identify us. They knew our age, occupations and other information from questionnaires we’d filled out years ago when we registered to vote.
They asked if we had any updates and there were some recent name changes from marriages or divorces but nothing earth shattering. Then we were sent on a break and asked to return in 10 minutes and to the same seats.
When we returned to the courtroom we were asked to rise as the judge entered.
He told us to be seated and from this point forward the day went to hell.
The judge read the charges against the defendant.
I lost count as he continued to read, but at the end he let us know there were 15 counts against the young man sitting facing the 36 potential jurors.
You have got to be kidding me, entered my mind as the judge continued to read charges against the young man facing us.
I did my best to control my emotions.
I wanted to be chosen as one of the 12 jurors to make sure this defendant would burn in hell.
The DA got up and started the process. He told us he had seven years experience as a district attorney and wanted to make sure we all knew the difference between watching CSI on television and the reality of digging in and getting to the facts. He did his best to get people to speak and called us by name to get our reactions.
He called on me and I did my best to sound impartial.
I used to play cards a lot and I acted some in high school and college, so I was fairly confident that I sounded and looked sincere. The DA spoke for nearly two hours going through a wide variety of questions.
To give you an idea, some of the charges were rape, sodomy, robbery, theft and assaulting a police officer.
The 22 year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to all charges
Not guilty my ass
I’m going to assume he’s claiming self defense and that he didn’t assault the police officers. The district attorney reminded us of the five days it would take to come to a verdict. He read the 50 or more names of witnesses including police officers and crime lab technicians that were to be called.
Why in the world were we wasting so much time and money on this SOB?
The DA wrapped up, and we were sent to lunch for 45 minutes.
Back in the courtroom later, three female defense attorneys presented questions to the 36 people seated in front of them.
I mused that it was curious that three women were defending a man for sex crimes and robbery.
They asked questions and called on a few of us by name. The defense brought up the idea that their client was potentially under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Well that explains everything, doesn’t it? We should all just go home and set him free.
The defense attorneys asked if we acted the same under the influence as we did when we were sober.
They wanted the us to know there would be a lot of testimony. Some witnesses would appear for the first time in court and would be nervous on the stand. But we the jurors would have to believe their testimony.
Also the defense wanted to be certain we all understood there would be police officers and police lab professionals taking the stand, and they wanted us to know these professionals were trained to testify.
Were the defense attorneys trying to infer the professionals were possibly going to lie?
I was getting sick of this crap but trying to maintain my composure.
The victim was a 92-year-old woman living alone in her own home. Holy shit, she was robbed, raped and sexually assaulted.
The defense attorneys asked questions about older people. They wanted to know if we knew older people had issues with memory. Did we also know older people tend to bruise a lot easier?
Are you kidding me kept racing through my head as I listened to this crap.
Were they really trying to say it was her fault for opening her door? The defense attorneys asked if we could be impartial because of her age. They let us know she would appear as a witness and that she would be using a walker to get to the witness stand.
So in my mind I could see an older woman living on her own. She answers a knock on her door and this drunk and high SOB easily pushes the door open and destroys her world.
She’s been through enough
Why was the court wasting our time and tax dollars on this case?
Sure there are two sides to every story, but come on.
She suffered from his lack of control
He got caught
He attacked the police officers trying to arrest him
He says he’s innocent of all charges
I cry bullshit!
And guess what? I wasn’t selected as a juror.
But I hope this dude suffers more pain and anguish than his victim already has.