Thursday, May 26, 2005

The trial is over, and I'm home for good! Took two days less than the estimated four weeks, so I can't complain about the duration, eh?

We spent Monday hearing the prosecution's closing arguments (about 5 hours), the defense's closing arguments (about 1.5 hours), and the prosecution's rebuttal (about 45 min). All those facts got really exhausting; I can now tell you that we had to decide on 34 seperate charges. In the course of the trial, we heard more than 90 witnesses, saw more than 288 pieces of admitted evidence...and were dealing with events that took place over a 7-month time span. Keeping that all straight was pretty tough, believe me.

Tuesday morning, the judge read us the Jury Instructions and instructed us in the pertinent points of law. That took oh, maybe 45 minutes. Then guess what...they had to eliminate one of us, because the judge decided only 12 jurors would be deliberating and deciding. So the Court Clerk (not the same as Clerk of Courts) put all our names in a bingo-cage-like thing, cranked it around, and then drew one out. Guess who it was? The Token Male! Poor guy, he was pretty disappointed. So it was an all-female jury deliberating.

The bailiffs explained to us what proceedures we had to follow to request to see evidence exhibits, how to fill out the verdict form, etc. So we actually started deliberations around 10am, and continued straight through lunch until almost 5pm. And we weren't done yet!

We headed back to the hotel on Tuesday night, had supper, and I got to see Finding Neverland for the first time. Ahhhhhh, Johnny Depp!

This morning, we headed back into that jury room and re-started deliberations right away. We reached our final verdict around 11:30am. After lunch, which had already been ordered, we reassembled in the courtroom at 1pm. The Token Male got to sit with us in the jury box again. We handed our verdicts to the judge, who read them aloud individually. The defendent betrayed no emotions, and there were no theatrical outbursts from the gallery, which was completely packed, with people standing in the back.

We found him guilty on 26 charges, and not guilty on 8. The charges involved things like arson, burglary, theft, and some other things.

After the verdict had been read and verified, we went back into our jury room, and the judge came and talked to us for a while. He thanked us again for our sacrifice of nearly 4 weeks of our lives, our attentiveness during the proceedings, and for being such a pleasant group to work with. And he answered some questions we'd had that he couldn't answer before. Then the D.A., Assistant D.A., and a Detective Lieutenant that had been in charge of the investigation (and sat with the D.A. and her assistant every day, helping handle evidence and stuff) came in too. They told us a whole bunch of facts that really confirmed for us that we had found the truth of the matters and made the right decisions.

The local newspaper of that city provided copies for each of us jurors of every issue that had dealt with this case or our involvement in it. And that paper's reporter who had covered the case also interviewed four of us, including myself, the Token Male, and my friend V. We took our coach bus back to our drop-off point here in our own county, and my friend N dropped me off at our Crypt around 5:15pm. I got to see Cowboy off to work, then called home and talked to my folks about the case.

Now, I've been vegging out, trying to decompress and start readjusting to my usual life. And I'm staying up as late as I can to start getting back into my 3rd shift lifestyle. I called work and let them know I'm back, and they said I can take tomorrow night off and just return on Friday night, which I appreciate a lot.

As I told the reporter, it's been a fascinating and educational experience. I learned a lot of things about our judicial system, about things involved in the case itself, and I've made some neat friends. And yes, I would be willing to serve on another jury in the future. Eventually. Thankfully, having served on this trial means I'm exempt from even being called up for jury duty for a couple years.

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