Tales from the Jury Room, Day Three

Judge: Madam Foreperson, has the jury reached a decision?
Missy: We have, your honor.

Day three turned out to be my last day of municipal jury duty. We started out in the jury assembly room, and our bailiff arrived to take our party of six down to our own jury deliberation room. The trial, which began yesterday afternoon, recommenced at about 9:30am. It was an assault case involving a man and a woman, with the man being the defendant. We heard yesterday afternoon from the responding police officer, then today heard from the woman, the man, and the woman’s adult son. We took about three recesses throughout the morning for various unknown reasons, but finally heard the closing arguments and were dismissed to deliberate at noon. We decided to take lunch first.

Headed uphill today, up Madison through First Hill. I never realized how damn many hospitals are crammed over in that corner of the city — seemed like every corner was swarming with hospital personnel clad in blue or green scrubs. Found the elusive Diet Rite in cans at the First Hill Bartell Drugs, then I was ready for the afternoon.

We reconvened at 1:30pm to deliberate. Got our instruction packets, handed our cell phones over to the bailiff, and we were off. First, we had to decide on a foreperson for the jury. Everybody hemmed and hawed for the most part, except for the one lady who decisively told us, “there’s no way it’s going to be me.” I, being the bold and forthright person that I am (HA!) offered, “I’ll do it if nobody else wants to.” This was met with a rounding huzzah from my jurymates, and so I was elected. We began to discuss the case, each of us in turn pointing out one of the multitude of inconsistencies between the witnesses’ stories. We ended up calling the bailiff to let her know we’d reached a verdict at 2:10pm, after only 40 minutes. Even so, we probably could have finished up in less than half that, but we got into discussing how nobody’s story meshed, and the case just had “reasonable doubt” written all over it. So we delivered our verdict of “not guilty,” were thanked for our time, and meandered back up to the jury assembly room. After about 5 minutes there, everyone was told that we were not only done for the day, but we weren’t required to be there tomorrow, so our stint as a municipal jury pool was at an end.

Turned in my badge, filled out a quick questionnaire, and I was out of there. Strolled down to the bus stop and only had to wait about 5 minutes for the ol’ Number 2 to roll up. And so here I am again, home again, home again, jiggity-jig!

I tried to describe the details of the case to Scott, and it not only took me a long time, but I think it came out all confusing. The case was just weird; the man’s story didn’t jibe with the woman’s story at all, then the woman’s son (who had observed his mother’s testimony) was called as a last-minute witness and gave a 3rd version of events, that didn’t even agree with what he’d watched his mother say earlier. But at its most basic, the woman and man both sustained very minor injuries, and while the woman admits that she bit the man in three spots, causing his injuries, we couldn’t be certain just how the woman had become injured. Could have been by the man’s hand, could have been by the man’s hand in self defense, or she could have done it to herself as revenge (the man called her his “roommate,” but the woman said they were in “an engaged situation.”) There were just too many questions, and not enough answers.

All in all, my jury experience was pretty darned fun. I got some reading done, got to enjoy a fantastic view (see below), and served my civic duty. And now I can not only check “jury member,” but also “jury foreperson” off the enormous list of Things To Do Before I Die.

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