courtroomThe routine of a trial from the perspective of a juror is one that is hard to describe but I will do my best. The first thing that one experiences is that each time a juror leaves or enters the courtroom, everyone stands up. The Jurors are then led out of the courtroom into a small room that has a large conference table and a coffee maker that makes the worst coffee that anyone can imagine ever drinking. There is also a restroom.

The first time we went into this room we became acquainted. It was a jury panel made up of four men and three women. All but one were white. One woman was black. I was the truck driver, there were two other men who worked for Disney and the other male was a contract landscaper. The black woman worked for a local hospital, one woman worked for a bank and the last woman was a housewife. 

After a few minutes, we went into the courtroom for the first time. The bailiff would announce “The Jury is entering the courtroom.” We would all file in and take our reserved seats.

The first thing that we all noticed is that the seating arrangement for the attorneys had changed. Rather than facing the main entrance to the courtroom that the public would enter, the attorneys and the defendant faced the judge at the far end of the courtroom. It had been decided while we were on break that the attorneys would give their opening arguments.

The prosecutor went first. This was sort of a date rape. I say sort of because this was not a date in the normal sense. The defendant and the survivor had known each other for years. It was normal for the defendant to come to the survivors apartment and hang out with her and some other friends that sometimes would visit as well.

On this fateful night, the friends did not show up. The two, now alone, sat on the couch and watched television. The attorney described how the defendant started to tell the survivor that he and his fiance were not getting along. Their sex life was suffering. The woman reminded him that she did not want anything physical. The fiance was her best friend and she did not want to damage that relationship. At some point, the defendant had had gone to the bathroom and when he came back, he was completely naked. Before the survivor could react, the defendant was on top of her, holding one of her arms above her head. She could not get free because her other arm was under the back of her head. He somehow pulled down the jogging shorts and began to penetrate her.

It was an all to brief encounter that lasted not even a half a second. He noticed she was crying and stopped. He then got dressed and left.

It was then the defense attorney who spoke next. He blamed the survivor, of course. He said that the only reason the survivor had reported the incident as a rape was because her mother forced her to. He reminded all of us that she considered the defendant a friend and did not want to do anything that might keep him away from his fiance and his two children.

She did not want to ruin his life.

At this point, our first day as jurors would come to an end. The judge gave the same instructions we have all heard in the trials on tv. We could not discuss the case, we could not research the case on line or anywhere. We could tell people we were serving on a jury but that was it. We could not have any contact with the press or any parties to the case and so forth.

The bailiff would announce “the jurors are leaving the courtroom” as everyone stood for us as we filed out, leaving our tablets and pens behind.

Day one was over. We went home to rest up for day two.

To be continued:

Stay tuned