EUPHORIC EXHALE

A place where moments take your breath away

A DAY IN COURT


I listened closely for my name to be called.  In the second group of people my name, along with fifty others, was called to report to court room 53. I collected my things and met the rest of the jurors in the hallway on the 5th floor.  Each person looking for another to befriend, yet maintaining a distance, hoping not to say there long.

 

Like chattel we piled in the court room and took seats on a long bench.  So close to a stranger, we could almost smell what they had for breakfast that morning. Tension in the room.  Each person doing their civil duty, once again, hoping it would end on the same day it started.  After all, we all have busy lives, why should we be punished because some loser has an issue. 

The short 5’0″ girl sitting next to me, on my left, was so close, her leg was right up against mine. Just a little to close for me, I’m a space-needing girl. But, like everyone else, I endured. We heard the comical excuses why people needed to be excused. The courts show no mercy. If you cannot serve jury then your personal life will be exposed to the world, and that judge showed no mercy. 

Finally, the court clerk called my name, along with sixteen others, to take a seat in the jury box.  A microphone passed around while each person gave answers to a list of fifteen PERSONAL questions. Who committed the crime here?  While we gave our information, the INNOCENT- UNTIL- PROVEN- GUILTY individual sat on and listened. He actually learned more about each of us INNOCENT- BECAUSE- WERE- INNOCENT, individuals,  then we did about him. Odd. 

Then each attorney questioned each of us. I was sitting in the middle row, middle location and for some reason I kept making eye contact with the lawyers. Not smart. Each question seemed to be directed at me and I felt like I was the one on trial.  One of the questions they asked us was: have you ever had a negative, sexual situation. Hmmmm 

A rape case.  The complaining witness or individual claiming to be raped took the stand.  We spent half the day listening to her. On our breaks, I took notes on my phone… Notes consisting of my feelings or thoughts. I wrote: 

It almost feels like I’m a fly on the wall listening to a private conversation. This is a personal case with very personal issues. Yet, one question keeps resonating with me, is there a history of issues with the woman who claimed to be raped. I’m not saying she was not raped, I’m just listening to everything she says and I wonder. Her boyfriend was arrested for hitting her a month earlier and she pressed charges. Then, a month later, in her testimony she claims she had a social event at her house where the defendant showed up, something to ponder.  

Lunch came right when she explained how he raped her. interesting time to break for lunch. But, we were given a three-hour lunch break. After lunch, while all of us waited in the hall to be let back in, we created this strange bond.  We talked and laughed while each of us avoided the subject that brought us all together. 

Finally, the doors opened again and we single-filed back into the room, taking our seat in the box. Everything was cleaned up, the defendant was gone and we looked at each other. The judge informed us that the defendant took a lesser plea. Sexual battery and not rape.  What made him change his mind?  We didn’t know. 

We were told we had served and completed our jury service for a year. Just outside door 53, we all talked about what we thought, shortly discussing the case we never got to discuss. And then as strangers, we parted and went our separate ways. 

Our lives go back to normal and our defendant goes back to jail until the system lets him out for good behavior. Good behavior? That’s a whole other discussion. 

October 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment