Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Polling the Jury

Many years ago, I got a postcard in the mail.  Jury duty.

I called the recorded message each night listening for my number. One night, I got lucky.

The next day, instead of training new hires in the rules and regulations for welfare benefits, I was at the courthouse, reading and waiting.

The pool was sent to the courtroom, and the selection process began. The first question to me was my opinion on the death penalty. Which they quickly clarified that this wasn't even on the table as a possible sentence.  So why did they ask?

After a few more questions about my life, my church attendance, my job, my ability to be fair and impartial  to listen to the evidence, I was chosen for the trial.

The case was a murder that had happened a few counties away from my home. Drugs were involved and several suspects. The trials had been separated so one defendant was pointing the finger at another. We heard from the arresting sheriff  the crime scene guys, local witnesses. We were shown pictures of the crime scene, a homemade afghan covering the bloody body of the victim.

They convinced me. But one woman wasn't as convinced. And we went step by step through the evidence and the testimony until she agreed.  Just like a good jury should. We even were pulled back into the court room to re-hear the court reporters notes on a section that the jury had different opinions on what was truly said.

At the end, the defendant was found guilty. And the defense lawyer, sensing a divide in the jury pool asked for a poll of the members.  Each one of us had to stand and say guilty. In front of the defendant, his family, and the court.

After the sentencing  the judge asked to speak with us.  He asked if we had any questions on the evidence. And then he told us the piece that had been held back from us, being too prejudicial.  The murder weapon had been found in the van with all of the defendants shoved under a baby's car seat as they went to rob a Circle K for junk food. That was how they started putting together the entire case.

A case of the munchies.

Sometimes fact is much stranger than fiction.

Do you have a jury duty story to tell?


RT Wolfe said...

I was rejected once for jury duty. Thank you for serving, Lynn. :)
-R.T. Wolfe

Kathleen Kaska said...

I served on an attempted murder trail many years ago. It really opened my eyes to the judicial process. I was so impressed with my fellow jurors. They took their duty seriously and after hours of deliberation, we agreed on a verdict and sentencing.

Lynn Cahoon said...

I can't believe I haven't been called here. Now I've probably jinxed myself. :)

Kathleen, it does give you an insider's look at the process. A writer's dream.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I've served twice, then later I was called but not picked once because I had a police officer son-in-law and another time because I was a mystery writer. Now I no longer have to go because I'm old.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Marilyn, you are too funny. I love that being a mystery writer disqualified you. :)