My dear readers…think O.J. Simpson…Perry Mason and 12 Angry Men!
Yesterday, I was in a courtroom all day long.
You see, a trial started in a very high profile (defendant accused of murdering his wife) case and I, and 67 others had been summoned to jury selection. There were only 8 jurors chosen after a very, very long day of questioning by the judge, the lawyers for the prosecution and lawyers for the defense.
During this whole process, the defendant was sitting at the defense table and I couldn’t help but look at him and study his reaction or non-reaction to all the questioning.
The judge was a grandfatherly type and seemed to genuinely care about each and every prospective juror.
We were asked to stand, give our name, residence and occupation, if retired, previous occupation, marriage status, number of children and their occupations, arrest records if any, and other general information. When I had finished with my dissertation which included my “blogging” reference ….the judge asked me what I blogged about and then commented that he had never had a “blogger” as a prospective juror.
It was very interesting to see how our judicial system works, up close and personal. And I do mean personal.
The questions being asked each prospective juror were very personal, in my opinion.
I wasn’t sure that we, the people felt all that comfortable with responding to a few of these types of questions…..and yet, we did.
There were those who requested approaching the bench to give a perhaps embarrassing or uncomfortable response….and the judge was very understanding. In those situations, a “white noise” kept the rest of us from “listening in”.
Some of the questions posed included drug/steroid use, arrests, domestic abuse, alcohol and non-conforming marriage and lifestyles….
And of course, the “would you have an open mind” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “innocent until proven guilty” and “what is your gut reaction to an insanity plea due to steroid intake”….. These phrases were bantered around freely and received a multitude of responses. The insanity question was asked of every single prospective juror and there were some very honest answers including my response of my first thought….it is a cop-out. It is no wonder that I was not chosen.
At the end of a very long day and not a lot of deliberation by the attorneys, 8 jurors were chosen and I have to admit, I was surprised at a few of their choices. But then again, the lawyers are far more knowledgeable than I.
I don’t mean to make light of a serious beginning to a trial for a man’s life….but I did find myself noticing resemblances of prospective jurors and attorneys to famous people. I mean after a 10 hour day of all kinds of serious topics, I had to smile.
The slim, prim and proper court reporter sat between the prospective jurors and the attorneys, her tight skirt just above her knees, revealing long slender legs. Atypical, right?
One prospective juror looked almost exactly like a blondish Ozzy Osbourne, mannerisms, long hair, round glasses, etc. He even slurred his words and stumbled with sentences and asked to be excused from jury duty for various reasons. I fully expected him to yell out “SHARONNNN” at any moment, needless to say, he was not one of the 8 new jurors.
Then there was the Sarah Jessica Parker look alike who happened to be on the prosecutor’s team. She was constantly looking around at the prospective jurors and writing notes. I watched her “mark off” or “check on” each juror’s fate. Her counterpart at the defendants table…reminded me of the sitcom actor, Johnny Galecki who plays the nerd, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on “the Big Bang Theory”.
Perhaps the most amusing of all was the 3 bailiffs….One uniformed officer sat near the side entry door, one stood just to the side of the judge’s desk, using the desk as a brace and the other one sat at a computer to the right in front of the judge’s desk. They had 2 things in common…one, they were uniformed officers of the court and two, they slept through most of the proceedings.
During one of the breaks, a pretty young prospective juror asked the standing/leaning officer if he ever fell over while sleeping and he replied without a smile. “Not yet!, and I get that question all the time”!
The judge had advised that if anyone needed a bathroom break or a medicine break or just to stretch their legs…to raise their hands and they would be excused, no questions asked.
However, it was amusing when one prospective juror did not raise his hand, but got up and walked towards the back of the courtroom and was immediately stopped by the rotund St. Nick-like fellow dressed in a bright, kelly green sportscoat with gray tie and slacks. He was the one who led us all up from the initial jury room and lined us up like school children and instructed us to stay in that line position, sitting or standing for the rest of the day. He then resumed his position as “keeper of the door”….and the bailiffs remained snoozing, except for the one sitting by the side door. He snorted, blinked open his eyes briefly…rubbed them with both fist shaped hands, sighed heavily, placed his hands back on his belly and returned to his snoozing.
The day ended and I was exhausted and exhilarated that the next five days of my life would not be tied up with a 8 a.m to 6 p.m. murder trial!
In my opinion, justice was served…beyond a reasonable doubt.
Have you ever been called to jury duty, and if so…was your experience similar to mine?
Have a great day!