On the Third Day We All Get Serious!

Day 3

Damn alarm. This is too much like having a job. Egg, bacon, tea in thermos, drive the half hour to Mercer. Find a parking place behind the Sunoco station. Find my way in, stop to pee before I get to the jury room. Girls from Jamestown are there, talking about a fight outside one of the bars the night before. Bar Chick’s brother involved, better not fuck with so and so, she’ll knock them out. Laughter. I believe her.

The rest come in, hang up their coats, settle into the seats. Wal-Mart Chick and I talk about the Springers her husband breeds. Nice lady.

Black chick still reading 50 Shades. Two chicks from Jamestown ask her about it, she starts to show them a passage, but Tipstaff walks in.

“Judge is hearing another case, you will wait right here. How is everyone? If you go to deliberation today and can’t come to a decision you’ll be housed in the Howard Johnson’s down by I-80. No, it won’t take too long. This is an emergency. Should only be a half hour or so. Just relax. What are you knitting? A shawl? Bring the pattern for me? OK I’ll be back.”

We all slump a bit, deflated, but no one complains. No one grumbles. Interesting how we have coalesced as a group…we are “The Jury”. I would love to write about this. I think I will…soon…before I forget.

Quiet talk. More on the fight. No one had to go to the hospital, but it might flare up again this weekend. Too much alcohol. Black Chick talking to Jamestown ladies. None of us talks about the case.

Tipstaff. I use the toilet, we file out in our accustomed order. Lawyers, defendant, few spectators.

“All Rise” Judge comes in. Court is in session.

The assistant DA is presenting today. Looks like she’s just out of law school. Nervous as shit. We all sit quietly…we know the ropes now…not so nervous. We all have our legal tablets, ready to take notes. I can feel how intent we all are to listen, to make sure we hear what is said.

Oh god….this is awful. This woman is a lawyer? Has she not been trained how to present evidence? I could do a better job. She never looks at us. Her hands are bright red…she stammers. Booker is leafing through papers…probably to unsettle her more.

Pictures of the Neon…pass each and every one around so we can all see it…and why? It takes so long…why not use the overhead? I know we will talk about this! All they have to do is move the screen closer to us. Losing the will to pay attention…so is the judge.

Judge is looking exasperated. No, I think he’s asleep. Cop from Southwest Regional…from Farrel. He don’t play. Pictures from the Circle K robbery. Ok…loads of pictures of the two white guys. Officer identifies them both as the robbers. Great…side bar…but where is the evidence against Shawn? I want to see evidence against him! More pictures. Same shit, different day.

Cop from Greenville. Pictures from the Veados robbery. Great! Black dude did that robbery. Show the video again. Point out the blue bandanas. Cop Id’s the bandanas on his head. Physical evidence from Shawn’s apartment. Jeans…tear in the hem.

Judge is asleep. I’m falling asleep…all morning and still no obvious evidence against Shawn…try to look at notes…try to see what the Prosecution is leading to…try to see the chain of circumstantial evidence…is this what they are doing? I don’t see it. I want to see it, but I don’t.

I don’t see that they have proven his guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt”.. Shit. I know he did this…I want to convict him…but, in good conscience, I won’t be able to with what they’ve shown me. I just…oh…What is happening? Prosecutor just asked the Assistant prosecutor to ask …Brookfield cop is explaining his picture line up…that Arthur ID’d Shawn from that…chick is asking where they got the picture of Shawn…from a previous…conviction Oh Shit!!!! Judge sits up…little bit of commotion. Side bar says the judge!!! Right now!!!They all go up…talk, talk…look at us…talk…

“You are to ignore and forget what the Brookfield cop said about where he got the picture.”

Lunch…judge is pissed!

Wal-mart Chick and I walk with one of the Quiet Ladies to Sheetz for a sandwich. The Diner takes too long. Quiet Lady says she ate with Fredonia Lady the day before…wanted to be with “quieter” people. There always has to be one asshole in every group…Fredonia Lady is it for us.

We sit on benches in the bottom of the courthouse and eat. Quiet lady says that Booker is good. I don’t want to really talk about things…but agree..that is a safe way to approach it. Hmmm..maybe I’m not the only one who sees that the prosecution isn’t giving us the evidence we need. What am I going to do when we deliberate? I’m quiet. I’m scared. Will I be able to stand up and say I don’t see the evidence to convict, or will I just be quiet. Who will the foreman be? Probably me. Shit. Suddenly I’m 10 again and all my life since then hasn’t happened…

Finish lunch, walk to the second floor. Admire the decorations. This is a beautiful courthouse. No metal detectors. That is so funny. The Erie Courthouse had metal detectors, cops…nothing here. Do they think we are that safe? I don’t. After Newtown I don’t think there is any place safe. Line of prisoners walked down the hall to another courtroom. Hmmm. I would hate to be locked up.

Back to the jury room. We settle in, all we can talk about is the picture ruckus. Black chick thinks prosecutor tried to get a mistrial…we agree. Jamestown chicks say the Prosecutor knows he screwed up so he tried to get a mistrial…and that Booker knew the Prosecution screwed up and hopes we acquit. Tipstaff. We have to be quiet. I bet she’s right…because the Prosecutor hasn’t proved a thing to me.

OK…this is the last chance…lets get to it. Prosecutor again. More physical evidence from Shawn’s place. Jeans…tear in the hems. Pictures of the robbery at Standard Market with Arthur. Yep. Looks the same. Blue bandanas. Looks the same, now we’re getting somewhere. Black t-shirt/white t-shirt. eh. Can’t tell if they are the ones the robber wore either in Standard Market or Veados. Great to finally see evidence.

Booker. “You cannot say this is the same tear as the one in the picture from Standard Market! This goes out(pushes the tears out). The jeans in the picture go straight back!” Yeah, if you were walking in them…you go, Booker! Good try, but I think it is the same tear. I think those are the same jeans. Bandannas. “Did your department run a DNA test on the bandannas? Yes? Results? No DNA at all? None?” Booker relaxes a bit…looks quickly at us. It was July and he had oil on his hair…and no DNA? Hmmmm Hard to believe. Young Black dude snorts next to me.

Booker continues…knocks down all the physical evidence…gives us a reason to doubt every bit of evidence.

Prosecution? They rest. Booker…any witnesses? No. That is is for today.

Judge reminds us not to discuss this with anyone, not to watch the news, not to Google any of this. OK. Back to the jury room. Court cleared…home.

Day 3 Evening

Thursday night and I have bowling. Oh no…not going…exhausted. Just laid out. I never realized how intense this would be, how much stress I would put on myself to do the best job I can. I am tired. Cold today, bit of snow…stop and get a sandwich on the way home…too tired to cook. Spend the evening watching TV…get to bed early because the summations will be tomorrow then we will deliberate.

I think I want to be foreman. Who else would do it? All the others except for Jamestown Bar Chick and Black Chick are too quiet. Fredonia Lady would be a disaster. She doesn’t think or listen…and would convict because he is black.

Oh, he’s guilty, but..the prosecution hasn’t proved it beyond a doubt. I have doubts and I can’t vote to convict if I do.

I haven’t looked at the defendant much at all. I don’t want to make a judgment on that because Booker has him spiffed up. It will be a hard day tomorrow, and what if we all disagree? What if we are hung? What if we have to go to the motel overnight…which would be all weekend? Call Nancy and tell her where the extra keys are in case we’re sequestered so she can take care of Maggie.

Can’t sleep.

About C. A. Metzger

I write travel books and am working on a detective novel set in Cleveland in the 1930's.
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