Sunday, October 28, 2012
A break from my routine
And once I sat on a jury for three days. A woman was suing a man for an alleged rape, and I listened to the presentations of both the assertion of rape and the arguments in the man's defense. These took two days, one for the witnesses and aggrieved party to testify, and the second day for the defense to make their case.
The hardest part for me was to listen to everything and not be able to discuss it with anybody: not the other jurors, not my partner, simply nobody. I had some very strong opinions about what was going on here, and it was my duty to keep those thoughts to myself. Were the other jurors feeling like I did? Was I wrong in thinking that this woman was making it all up in a fit of pique? That's what was emerging in my mind as I listened to the arguments.
I am not sure how I would have fared in a long trial, because just in those two short days I was having difficulty letting myself get involved in any other activity. I was obsessed with the trial and couldn't read or otherwise distract myself. If I went for a walk, my thoughts turned constantly to the arguments that had been presented to me, and I couldn't talk to anybody about it!
Fortunately, we were given our final instructions on the third day and went into jury deliberations. What a relief to finally be able to talk about it! And interestingly, all but one other juror felt as I did. Since we had one holdout, a social worker who also acted as an advocate for rape victims (how did he ever get on this jury?), he brought up some interesting theories of the possible reasons this might have actually been what the aggrieved party said it was. But it was a stretch, a real stretch.
It turned out that most of us were in total agreement about the woman's real intentions in this trial, to make the young man suffer. We finally all came into agreement, and within a few hours after we began our deliberations, we were able to deliver a "not guilty" verdict. When I walked out to the parking lot, the young man was walking out a free man after being in jail for something he did not do. Not to mention the time and expense involved for all parties.
Now I will find out whether I will end up on another jury, or if I will be dismissed or not needed during this two-week period. Since I'm retired and have no job to worry about, you'd think I would be excited about this break from my schedule. But frankly, I'll miss riding the bus to the coffee shop and hanging out with the regulars, attending my regular classes at the gym, and basically having my daily routine disrupted. I am also planning on a trip in mid-November to visit my family for Thanksgiving. I wonder what happens if you end up sitting on a long trial: do they break for holidays? (Probably not.)
It's been raining here all day and all night, for several days in a row. I walked with the Fairhaven walkers yesterday anyway; we only had a few sprinkles as we made our way through Whatcom Falls park. Thirteen of us showed up on a dreary day, and we walked through wide avenues covered with leaves, painting a colorful tapestry of gold, yellow and browns. Even when it's raining, it's really beautiful here in the Pacific Northwest. I would have taken some pictures but I was afraid of getting my camera wet, so I left it in the car.
So begins another Sunday morning as I sit here in the dark, partner sleeping lightly next to me, and the day about to begin. Tonight I'll call the juror telephone line to find out what tomorrow will bring. In Colorado, I was required to attend at least the first day for orientation, but this is Washington state and things might be handled differently. I'm glad I visited my previous experiences as a juror in today's post; my feeling about the situation has shifted to one of curiosity and a possible new adventure.
Have a wonderful week, dear readers. Until next time!