Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Process

As anyone who has ever been on jury duty knows, most of the time is spent in anticipation. Wondering if your number will be called. Accessing the amount of potential jurors in the room and the number actually needed, working out your odds.

As the day goes on and your number isn't called you stop worrying and it becomes a kind of vacation. A day where you can sit around reading your book, eating vending machine snacks you normally shy away from, maybe joking to the people next to you, trying not to pay attention to the tv showing the oxygen network. (btw - isn't jury duty painful enough without Oxygen blaring on the tv? Its like don't even want to try and make your stay there enjoyable at any level.)

But then the court worker comes and everyone gets the same wide eyed look of dread, whispering "Please? Not my number!" to themselves.

Well, for our trial it was a little different. The court worker stated off the bat that we were all there for just one trial and that we would all be called, it was just a matter of when. And even though we were all hoping that she had made a mistake, we all were eventually taken into an even colder, if brighter, courtroom to hear a little about the case and to fill out a 22 page questionaire. Seriously. 22 pages. Some questions made sense regarding your the case; "Do you personally know the defendant and if so will this have an affect on your judgement?" Some felt like I was filling out a questionairre for a dating website; "What are five books you have read in the last year" (if you are interested: Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman; The Watchmen, Alan Moore; Artemis Fowl, Eoin Coffer; I, Claudius and Claudius the God, Robert Graves. I didn't mention the whole Twilight Series, Stephanie Meyers, because I would not even mention that I read them and somehow enjoyed them against my better judgement under oath. Even though I just mentioned that here. damn. there goes my credibility. They grated against my soul, but I couldn't stop reading them.)

Anyways, long story short, we all filled out the questionaires then had to come back the next day for the interviews. I was one of the ones that got questioned by Mr. Burns. I knew that the defendant didn't have to testify, but I thought that the defense still had to disprove the counts against him. That of course is not the case (pun!), as I was reminded by Mr. Burns and the Judge. I think I was just thinking about the Brady Bunch episode where they proved that guy didn't have whiplash by throwing something so therefore Mr. Brady was innocent. After most everyone was questioned (there was a lucky group that was supposed to come in the next day but never had to), we went home awaiting our fate for the final selection the next day. I was called kinda late in the group of 36 from which the jury was to be picked so I had my hopes up that they were going to fill up the 16 seats before they got to me. At first my odds looked good as they picked one, skipped one for about 6 jurors. Then they skipped 4 people, and then 5 people. And that is when I knew that I was going to be picked. I had my bag in my hand and was standing up before they even called my number.

And that is how I became Juror #11.

Let me tell you something though. It is really scary sitting in the witness box and having everyone staring at you. Your life flashes before your eyes before you answer each question. I almost spilled everything like Chunk from the Goonies. "And then, when I was 7 I threw gravel on the floor of the roller rink..."


Reporter No. 5 said...

Very interesting inside look. I had a different view, from the second row. Care to compare notes?

Julie said...

Would love to know more about the facts and evidence in the trial that lead to the guilty verdict. People here in Alaska think he is innocent and the jury wasn't of his peers. I'm guessing his peers would be old white Republican Alaskans (aka Sourdoughs)??? All I needed to hear was the tape..obviously he was worried about something! Probably worried about losing the free ride he's had for the past 40 years. A little jail time would do him good.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the first people on trial are the jurors.
I think your Robert Graves books cancel out the others.

Anonymous said...

Bahahaaa - Chunk from the Goonies! OMG, I totally know what you're talking about!

This is gonna be good.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I'm pretty sure that was MRS. Brady, not the Mister. Furthermore another key plot element, the fact that Bobby and Cindy could not corroberate their brothers' and sisters' testimony that mom did, indeed, look first, was explained at the last minute by the little tykes recalling their dispute over spilled ice cream.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Dude, anonymous is correct on both counts: it was Mrs Brady, and the youngins' couldn't corroborate due to an ice-cream SNAFU.