Because Everybody Is Entitled To My Opinion

"O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, . . . in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

12 Angry Men and Two Alternates (Part One)

Well I just completed my civic duty for the first time. I have been a registered voter for 29 years and this is the first time I had jury duty. I must say it was an extraordinary experience. Now that the case is over I am free to talk about it as I see fit. During the two days we heard the case we could not say a single word to anyone.

I was on call all week but I didn’t have to report to the courthouse until Thursday. I showed up with a couple of books expecting to sit and wait most of the day. I think it was thirty minutes before they took about twenty five of us to the courtroom. The Judge made some opening remarks and started the “voir dire”. We were asked collectively and individually questions about our backgrounds and any feelings we might have that might bias us one way or the other. One interesting question, and I have to assume it is a standard one, was “Do any of you feel that it is not your place to judge another person?” There was one. After more questions from both sides, six potential jurors were “excused and thanked”. I was surprised that some were let go, but not surprised at the others. Because it was a criminal trial there were twelve jurors, nine men and three women and two alternates. I was juror #3.

After an hour and a half lunch the state presented its case. A woman was accused of Domestic Violence. In fact it was the third time she had been charged. The first time was a misdemeanor and the second a felony. She pleaded no contest to the first and not guilty to the second but was found guilty. We found this out after the trial. We knew she had two previous convictions when we started but they were not allowed to be considered during the trial and deliberation. They were only mentioned because if she were found guilty, it being the second felony conviction would weigh heavier. I found that rather confusing.

It appeared to be pretty open and shut. The defendant, who I will call Lola, invited her mom, who I will call Lulu, to town. They had been estranged for 10 years and Lola wanted to mend fences. After two days of peaceful visiting, Lola takes Lulu to dinner. Lola has several beers. They return to Lola’s house and begin to discuss old times. The conversation turns violent and 42 year old Lola strangles and scratches 65 year old Lulu. Lulu breaks free and flees the house. Lola leaves and goes to her boyfriend’s house in a neighboring community. Meanwhile the local police arrive and take Lulu’s statement, photograph the lacerations abrasions and bruises and then take her to the hospital where her injuries are documented in a medical report.

In the neighboring community the police are called on Lola. She and her boyfriend are having a spat. Lola leaves the scene and almost runs over a police sergeant in the process. She is pulled over by another officer and given a sobriety test. The results are inconclusive. She is taken back to her boyfriend’s house and given four more tests. She fails and is arrested for OVI. All of this is captured on the police cruiser video.

Well our verdict might surprise you given the above were all recorded facts and no less than five police officers from two different departments testified. You see the state had to put Lulu on the stand. And they had to make sure we knew Lulu, shot her husband once in the back of the head and then four times through the heart. More on Lulu in part two.

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