A few months ago I was one of the 'lucky' few ( 150 on this day) chosen to show up to court for Jury Duty Selection. I have filled out those blasted forms for almost 20 years and have managed to dodge the bullet so far.
I have mentioned to a few, how this is the type of situation I don't do well in. I don't deal well with the fear of the unknown. I also HATE having to be anywhere by a certain time. I obsess about being late. When I travel via plane I don't relax until I am strapped in my seat.
Closer to the date of my summons a new fear crept in. I joked about being responsible for the fate of another- "Why would they want me?" " I should just bring in a blog post. I'll be immediately excused". Emma was even so kind as to offer Fake Steve's services to sway the court to let me off. Anyway I was so anxious. Almost to the point of making myself sick. Honestly , what were the real odds that I would be chosen? And what were the real odds that it would be case involving anything controversial ? I knew this was most likely the case- but yet I fretted.
|What was going on inside|
Once again I distanced. I should have went to Barney when he came home from work and expressed my fears. Once again I felt silly. That I was blowing this entire thing out of proportion. Really it is not like we own our own business or that our income would be affected if I had to serve. Our children are older and I have no health issues either....BUT ...I could plead insanity.-.after all I did ask for my husband to discipline me. Oh wait. I'm not on trial here
I left many things to be done last minute - the morning of the summons. I am not normally that person. I usually have things done well in advance. During the night I kept waking up and looking at the clock. I kept thinking of all the things I needed to do when I finally got up. Things to ensure a easy departure for all five of us. Mr. Sandman and I were not on the best of terms that night.
Finally I gave in and got up about an hour earlier than I normally do. Yet I didn't start in on the things I needed to. My stomach was one big knot. Barney, bless him, had said he was going to come with me to the court house. So the worry of driving around downtown, finding a parking spot and getting lost alone in the courthouse would not be mine alone to bear. This was not enough to relieve my stress. An hour before *I* thought we should leave I charged upstairs- flicked on our bedroom light and announced in a rather less than respectful tone
" We have to leave in an hour . You KNOW "
A rather sleepy Barney responded " Oh okay."
I wasn't done. I went on to list all the things we required for the day. Things that he normally deals with, but I didn't remind him of earlier either. I was angry at him for not getting up earlier. The boys and I work like a well oiled machine in the morning and him wanting to get ready ( he was going to leave for work from the courthouse ) during the middle of our routine was not going to be helpful. At one point I snapped at him for dripping toothpaste on the floor. For the life of me I can't even remember why he was in the kitchen talking to me brushing his teeth anyway.
" Oh. sorry"
Once we were on our way to the courthouse things seemed better. Okay, I seemed better. We arrived in plenty of time.
I was the only one there with 'back up'. Everyone else had come solo. While I was standing in line to have my paperwork looked over, I heard the woman behind me say to the man next to her,
" See that man who keeps walking by the door? His son was murdered and he believes we are the people that the jury is being picked from."
Panic. This man appeared to be in his early 50s at most. Breathe Wilma. You don't know any of this for sure. I discussed with the woman about our trip, and asked if this was going to be an issue. Apparently this trial would be over within a month...A month! I teased Barney that we'd have to suspend ttwd for 2 months almost. The trial, 2 weeks leading up to our trip and our trip. He just looked at me. " We do have the night time"
" Yeah but we----..."
" Just because we haven't yet doesn't mean I'm not going to" okaaaaaaaaay then.
We were finally told the ins and outs of the process.
They ushered us into a courtroom. Barney was not allowed to come with me. The woman who sat next to me all morning remarked on how patient my husband was to come down here with me. I agreed. I became friendly with a handful of people. The ladies I was sitting with in the first room made sure to save me a seat in the courtroom. Before I sat down, I saw the back of the accused head. He was young. I could tell. I took a deep breath and sat down.
I looked around the room. The majority of the people were older than I was. A great deal of them looking at their watches. Some of the people in my generation were complaining about not being paid if they were chosen. Once again I realized that I really would only be inconvenience if chosen nothing more. Heck after day 10 I'd be getting paid ( only $40 ) .
I am not sure how it works in other places, but we are PRETTY high tech. here. The magistrate pulls a card out of a glorified bingo ball box with a jury member's number on it. You then must go in front of the court and see if you are chosen to be a juror. The Judge explained that this was indeed a murder trial. It happened in 2011. The Crown Attorney ( prosecutor) read the names of all the witnesses, police officers and then the lawyers were all named. If we knew any of them, we would be excused. Darn! I didn't know any of them. He began to further tell us 20 people would be chosen from the 150 and once 20 were before the court he would ask us if there was a reason if we couldn't be a juror. If people were excused. More people would be chosen. Once we had 20 the attorneys would say either Accept or Challenge if they wanted the juror. Each side was allowed 12 Challenges.
They drew the first juror. A man. A contractor I believe. Then another. A woman. A Director of something. The next number was the lady next to me. The one who told Barney he was a patient man earlier in the morning. The other lady who I had spent the morning with, turned to me . We both breathed a sigh of relief. What were the odds that one of us would then be chosen? The next juror, I kid you not...the VERY next number was mine. I wanted to faint. Somehow I made my way to the front, with the other 3.
We were lining up in front of the jury box. As potential juror number 4, my spot ended up at the front corner of the Crown Attorney's table. I glanced at the accused. He was a boy. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry. I didn't do either of those things of course.. I later found out he was 20, but he didn't look more than 17 at best. I know he was accused of killing another almost boy- someone elses' boy but I couldn't help but feel sorry for the boy in front of me. He looked so scared.
The process seem to take forever. Calling more names...people saying why they could not be part of the jury...calling more names. (my new 'friend' was related to a witness so she was excused). I actually heard my name mentioned by the Defence attorney's assistant while they were furiously writing things down. I couldn't help but feel that the Crown's assistant kept looking at me- of course I was right in front of them. I could see the court stenographers computer in front of me. I tried to concentrate on that. I didn't move a muscle.
The 'boy's' eyes burned a hole in the side of my face I swear. Every so often I would sneak a glance and he would hold my eyes for a moment before he looked away. I wonder how long it has been since he was touched by his mother. I know...the victim's mother would never touch her son again. Once again a wave of nausea came over me. I was the only ' Stay at Home Mom' out of the 20 people chosen. I wasn't sure what that could mean.
The Judge began.
" Juror number 1234 please turn and face the accused. Accused please face juror 1234. Defense what say you? "
Defense " Accept"
" Crown what say you?"
Crown " Accept"
The man was immediately sworn in and asked to take a seat in the jury box. He was now juror number one. Holy Heck...they are starting the trial immediately. Barney is out in the hall! Flip!
The Judge began again.
“Juror number 5678 please turn and face the accused. Accused please face juror 5678. Defense what say you? "
“Crown what say you?"
Crown " Accept"
This time the woman next to me was sworn in and was pronounced juror number 2.
Now my turn. I was already looking at the boy before the instruction from the judge.
" Juror number ______ please turn and face the accused. Accused please face juror ____. Defense what say you? "
The Defense attorney, standing next to the glass and wood box that the accused was in, and behind the Crown attorney smiled at me and said " Accept"
( Crap. Crap. Crap!...I'm flippin' juror number 3.. Holy Hell! )
" Crown what say you?"
Crown " Challenge"
Huh? Did I hear that correctly?
Judge " Thank you juror number_ _ _ _. for your time you are excused"
Oh thank you Lord ! Phew. I glanced over and the Defense attorney gave me a tight lipped smile.. I practically RAN from the courtroom.
Outside the door was Barney. Waiting. He said he was about to leave earlier when he saw people exiting the courtroom so he'd thought he'd wait a little longer just in case. We still had some running around in the HUGE courthouse to clarify something. That yes indeed.. I have to go back again. In a week to repeat the entire process all over again for a different trial.
On the way home, I explained the process to Barney. He said I was too soft that is why the Crown didn't want me :) . I think he meant it in a good way. I told him I couldn't believe that I still felt sick to my stomach. He commented that he didn't know I was feeling like that earlier....ooops. I explained the 'boy' and the trial. We both remember reading about a couple of years back. I mentioned to him how I was a basket case for the days leading up to jury selection. Once again he said he didn't know. I said yes I knew that....sigh...okay so I'm still not great at this entire 'sharing' thing.
It also occurred to me today that perhaps I leave things that need to be done until the last minute on important days, so that I fret about that instead of the real issue that is bothering me. Who knows?
I do know that I was very disrespectful to my husband this morning, and I intend to apologize tonight as well as say thank you for coming with me today. I may also be a tiny bit grateful that Barney is still in the HoH closet. Because I know a few of you are going to mention, in secret of course that I am darn lucky I wasn't married to their husbands ...well more aptly they are going to say..." You said WHAT?....OMG...Wilma ! That would so not go over well over here. "
Next week our son has a follow up appointment from his surgery. Barney will take him and I will begin this entire process again. But I mean what are the odds right? Even if lightening does strike twice, perhaps this will be a civil suit involving a dog mutilating a neighbour's fence. What ? I can hope.