occhThere was another routine that took place during the trial. That routine was the extended breaks and the meal breaks. Prior to being selected to serve on the jury, the prospective jurors would take the breaks in the waiting areas and hallways of the 6th floor of the courthouse. We could take our bathroom breaks and play with our smart phones, I pads and lap tops while waiting to go back into the courtroom.

Once the jury was selected, they were confined to the jury room during the shorter breaks and then were allowed to go down stairs for lunch. It is during these breaks where we were all in the outside area that a rather strange separation took place.

The defendant would come out of the courtroom alone. He would visit the public rest room. Nobody would talk to him, some even avoided looking at him. He was isolated, we were isolated. We all kept our distance.

There were four courtrooms in this floor. It was common for the trials to recess at about the same time. The jurors and other parties to the various trials would be in the common areas.

On the second day of the trial, during the lunch recess, I had come up to the courtroom floor from the cafeteria and waited for the bailiff to come out and take us into the jury room. We were not sequestered. I went to one of the large windows at the back of the building to watch the goings on 6 floors below in downtown Orlando. I noticed a young black woman, sitting on one of the couches that lined the wall, wearing headphones and busily texting on her smart phone.

IMG_0466

She looked up at me, a sad expression on her face and then went back to her texting.

I decided to make one last visit to the restroom and shortly afterword, the baliff rounded me and my fellow jurors up and escorted us into the deliberation room where we would wait to be called into the courtroom.

As I walked into the door I looked to my right to where the woman sat texting away, and then to my left to see the defendant waiting nervously for someone to open the door to the courtroom so that he could enter.

The significance of that moment would be come clear quite soon.

Stay tuned

MURT

Advertisements