Monday, July 14, 2008
The decider, now decided, done deciding.
Your honor, we the jury find the defendant guilty!
It's all over.
So now I can tell you all about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And please don't think that I take what we did lightly, as a person's life is going to be fairly significantly altered for a bit here, but still- I can't help thinking that I want the past four weekdays of my life back.
Lamest jury trial ever. And I watch Law & Order a LOT- I should know.
I just finished sitting on a jury for FOUR DAYS for 3rd-degree burglary. That's it. No murder, no gun play, no exposing one's genitalia in public. Not so much as a speck of public drunkenness.
The dude stole a laptop, the dude exercised his American right to a trial by jury. Ta-da!
The jury selection process for this MAJOR crime took all day Wednesday and almost all day Thursday. They asked us questions like:
"Have you or anyone close to you ever committed a crime?" (Yup. Not telling y'all about the pantsless debacle with the acrobats and the scooters and the "accident". Well, not today anyways.)
"Are you, or is anyone close to you involved in/employed in the legal field?" (Nope. Not unless you count my uncle who's a bikini inspector.)
"Have you or anyone close to you ever had a bad experience with the police?" (Um, I think it's best to say "no" here. Officer Jellyfinger knows what he did wrong. Oh yes- he knows...)
"Do you believe that the police can make mistakes?" (We all said yes. Very quickly.)
"Are you more of a 'big picture' person, or are you more detail-oriented?" (This is where I mentioned that I pay little or no attention to details. Ever. And they still picked me.)
"Do you enjoy working with others or do you prefer to work alone?" (And here is where I mentioned my control-freakishness and unwillingness to share my toys. They still picked me.)
They asked approximately 36 of us the same questions over and over and over and over...
Almost. Two. Days. Of. This.
And the waiting. The WAITING!
Once we were picked, we were told to report at 8:45 a.m. each day of the trial in order to be ready for the trial to start promptly at 9:00. Friday we started at approximately 9:45, and Today we started at 9:30. Every time we were told "five minutes", it meant "45 minutes."
Forty five minutes of waiting, 45 minutes of the trial, 20 minutes of waiting, 30 minutes of the trial. 15 minute "break", then wait, no- never mind. It's nearly lunch time, so let's just go ahead and break for lunch. We'll see you back here at 1:30 (1 hour, forty-five minute lunch).
2:35 the court clerk comes knocking. "Are you guys ready?" All we can think is, "Are you fucking kidding?"
At 3:15 we take another 15-minute "break".
At 3:50 we resume.
4:30- time to go home.
The trial itself was boring- a few "objection, your honor's" here, a few "may we approach the bench's" there, but no big surprises.
He basically got caught red-handed stealing a laptop from a business. There was a ton of evidence against him, the owner of the building watched him go in the building after hours, and the cops caught him a quarter of a mile away.
But, for whatever reason he felt he was "not guilty", hence the trial.
My fellow jurors were a pretty good lot overall. The one holdout during deliberations was someone who hadn't really paid attention during the trial, so they were asking annoying questions and were trying to question the State's evidence, which was pretty much rock solid.
Note: If you are a juror, and you are going to zone out during the trial, or if you are "not understanding" the blatantly blatant obviously obvious crime set before you, get out of the jury however you have to, because your fellow jurors may start plotting your grisly death as the prospect of getting sequestered draws nearer.
One older (63-ish) female juror kept hitting on the young male juror that I (in my brain) referred to as "Sir Sexypants", which was hilarious. She was kidding, but I think she was just vocalizing what the rest of the lady-folk in the room were thinking. And fantasizing. And getting a little sweaty about.
We had a lot of time on our hands, cut us some slack.
Today, by the time we went to lunch the trial had concluded. As we had not yet deliberated, we were escorted to lunch through the streets of downtown St. Paul by two armed deputies. One poor juror had to go to the ladies' room during lunch, and she had to be escorted there by one of the deputies, who stood vigilantly outside of the door while she did her business. I decided it would be best to hold it.
Deliberations took a little over an hour. Eleven of us walked into the room knowing our decision already as it was SO FREAKING OBVIOUS THE DUDE TOOK THE LAPTOP. DUDE, WE KNOW YOU TOOK THE LAPTOP. SERIOUSLY. DUDE, JUST OWN IT, O.K?
But eleven isn't twelve, and so we sat and tried to figure out why this particular juror could not see something so very (here's that word again) obvious that a four year-old could figure it out. I think they just liked being "the decider". I think they needed the power trip. Had we been sequestered, all eleven of our fuses were so short that I think they would have had a power trip up their behind for holding out.
But they didn't, the verdict was "guilty" and balance is once again restored in the world.
I can't get called again for four years. Next time this happens I'm telling them that I'm currently being treated for bipolar disorder, anger-management issues, narcolepsy, a bad back, incontinence, a herniated vagina, and a prescription painkiller addiction.
That might get me out of it.
Oh, and I just googled the defendant, and now I think I see why such a big deal was made of what was such a "small crime". The guy has a record several miles long, including LOTS of stolen computers, brandishing a weapon at an officer and many other break-ins.
They say his theft totals are in the $300,000 range. One officer called him a "very prolific burglar".
I guess I don't feel too bad for him anymore.