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2012-04-18 9:38 PM
The members of the jury got to know each other fairly well during our time together. It wasn't such a long time that we became part of each other's lives, but we gradually learned some of what made each of us tick. We didn't see into our fellow jurors' souls, but we wore our hearts on our sleeves. We didn't hold back much. But we never exchanged names. I don't know if it was deliberate or not, or if that's the way with other juries, but with us it simply never came up.
There were a couple of exceptions. Two of the jurors had known each other years before but hadn't had any contact in twenty years. They reconnected during the trial not because of their history together, but because they both liked fishing (and liked to talk about it). We had also found out, during the selection process, that one of us knew Wendy, our regular bailiff, from high school. And one fellow acknowledged that he was acquainted with the judge.
When we got together, during the course of our conversations about the case, we discovered what "acquainted" meant. "My little brother used to beat him up in fifth grade" they guy told us. This is a medium-sized city we live in, but for a moment we felt some of that small town atmosphere. It was a breath of fresh air, to be honest.
After getting the case, we had adjourned after spending less than hour together. We arranged to meet the following day at 1:30 pm. We could have started earlier, but only if all twelve of us unanimously agreed, with no dissent or pressure. Some people had arranged with their employers to work earlier in the day so they would have their afternoons free, so 1:30 it was. Not being a morning person, I was okay with that, even if it meant an extra day or two of deliberations.
Having spent so little time with these people the day before, I didn't know what to expect when we started our first full day together. I didn't know if they'd had the same experience I had. I slept badly, even worse than usual, because I couldn't get the case off my mind. I started arguing the case in my head, based on how I saw the evidence. I don't know if I hoped to use my argument on the other jurors, or hoped I wouldn't have to.
No, I'm not a morning person, but I was so restless I got out of bed early that morning. To keep myself from overthinking, I put myself to work. Since I work at home, this wasn't a problem. There was plenty to do, after missing so much time over the past week. By the time I got to court, I was a little less certain and a little more ready to listen.
However, I couldn't wait to get to court, and I was there early. Some of this was because I could never tell how quickly I could drive across town through the afternoon traffic, and some was just to make sure I wasn't the last one there. I wasn't, but I wasn't first, either. Bailiff Wendy was ready to let us in, but she did a head count and there were only eleven of us. She couldn't unlock the door until we were all there, so we waited an extra few minutes for a woman who hadn't allowed enough traffic time.
While we were waiting, we chatted, but (and I can't stress this enough, although I probably have) not about the case. One woman had seen the defendant in the parking lot and smiled at him before she realized where she knew him from. When it dawned on them they both had turned away sheepishly, she told us.
Wendy told us the bailiffs were betting on how long we would take to get to a verdict. We had no idea what that meant. Was it so obvious to them, one way or the other? And if so, which way? Or had they just seen so many trials that this was how they passed the time? She probably shouldn't have said that to us, but we didn't let it affect our deliberations. How could we, if we didn't even know what it meant?
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