HERE COME DA JUDGE
I recently did my civic duty. I was part of the jury pool for January and February. I have never been on a jury or had to ever report. . . . until this year.
I had to report for a case toward the end of January. Thankfully my name was not called, not that I don't want to serve, but I would not be able to get into the jury stand because of steps and no room to put my walker. It was very interesting to see the procedure for picking jurors and the type of questions the judge asked them first, and then each lawyer asked questions. There were about 40 of us there and they called 21 people. Then one by one several were dismissed and replaced with another person. I got a bit nervous as there weren't that many of us still unpicked.
The case was a sexual assault by a Hispanic male against an 11 year old girl. It was 'merely' squeezing her butt on top of her clothes. I didn't find out the age of the girl until I read it in the newspaper after the trial was over. He was convicted and was to go to prison, a but he is an illegal so he never showed up when he was supposed to go in, and they still haven't found him. When found he will be deported after he serves his time, with the added charges of failure to appear. I would have liked to have watched the trial but was ready to go home when we were dismissed at 12:30.
After watching the jury selection, and seeing how difficult it would be for me physically, I went to the clerk of court office to ask for an excusal for the rest of the term. But, I didn't get one. So I kept calling in every Monday evening to see if we had to report Tuesday morning, and sure enough, we were told to report again on Wednesday morning, but to call again Tuesday night in case the case was settled out of court. It wasn't, so we all reported. I tried again to get an excusal but did not.
After waiting for awhile the judge came out and told us there was a delay as the lawyers were still discussing. That gave me hope that they were still trying to settle out of court. Then the judge postponed the case until the next Tuesday because the weather forecast sounded like freezing rain and snow coming the next day, which didn't happen until evening so we could have met.
We were told to call in again Monday evening to see if we still had to report, and we did. This time I was not so lucky. My name was finally called after the first twelve were called. After we were all quizzed the final 12 were called and my name was not one of them! I am sure the whole county heard my sigh of relief. The lawyers could see that I would not be able to serve without physical challenges and could hinder the proceeding.
This case was about a woman being charged with marijuana possession after the deputy was called to a home for a domestic dispute. A couple of the men who were called up did not have nice things to say about her as they knew her, so obviously they were dismissed. So she does not have a good reputation. But, since she fought so long to have a jury trial and not settle out of court, maybe she was not at fault. Again, I would have liked to sit in on the trial, but did not. I would have liked to see what evidence was given for both trials.
It was interesting that the jury selection was different than the first case. They only called up 20 people and did not select a thirteenth in case a juror had to leave before the trial was over. And there was no court reporter there like there was at the first trial. Also, the judge did not ask us all questions first.
Since our term is over March 1, the judge told us we were done and did not have to call in again, smiling as he knew that made us all happy. Both the judge and the prosecutor told us this term was unusually busy as most of the time there are no cases in the two month terms. I do think there will be some cases coming up after some of the things I have read in the paper, but it will probably be a long time before they get to court, and I hope I am not in the jury pool for those.
I have watched two trials in the past. The first one was when I still lived with my parents. My dad was custodian at the court house and he knew about a trial and asked if I wanted to go with him to watch. I don't remember what the trial was about. The second one is very memorable. The husband of my good friend had been murdered, along with his boss, both bankers in a small town in Minnesota. It made national news and a book was written about it, and a documentary tv show was made as well. I took my daughter along to court to see how the court operated. Even though it was a school day, the school allowed her to leave since it was a learning experience. She was in high school at the time.
The small court room was packed, standing room only. They finally had to lock the doors to keep spectators out. The defendant was found guilty, and later the prosecutor stated it was the first time he won a case on circumstantial evidence.
I could go on and on about that story, but this post is already long enough. I might talk about it in the future, mostly for my kids to remember as part of my life.