Did sleep. Up before the alarm, breakfast, tea made, snacks in case we’re there late. Feed Maggie, leave extra food in case I’m late getting home. Leave early for Mercer to get a parking spot nearer the street in case I have to walk over in the dark. Like there’s going to be crime in Mercer.
We’re relaxed in the jury room today. Lots of talk of the basketball game tonight with West Middlesex. Fredonia Chick is going on about welfare. She truly is an obnoxious person, and could have a deleterious effect on any discussions we have. Can’t say anything…don’t want to antagonize her. The two nice women next to her are just nodding and wishing she would shut the hell up. Wal-Mart Chick is talking to Young Black Guy…very nice woman…she is trying to make him feel a part of us all. Trying to get him to drink some coffee, offering him some sweets. Black Chick is reading…different book today. We’re all just waiting and hoping things finish today.
It has been a fascinating few days. I think as I knit….it was all structured to first separate us from our outside lives, then to isolate us so we would form a unit. Looking around at the fourteen of us, we are all different. None of us has talked politics or religion, but I know we all have different ideas and beliefs..but we seem to have one thing in common…the desire to follow the law and the judge’s instructions. We all want to do what is right…even if we believe, as I do think we do…that Shawn is guilty.
Nerves. Nerves because I just feel I might be foreperson, but calm because I want to be that foreperson. I know how to do things like this…so I think…how will I do it…how to do it and not force my ideas on the others. Oh shit.
Tipstaff. Line up. File in. legal pads and pencils. All Rise. Court is in session. Funny how this is all normal to us now.
Booker is first.
Clean page on the tablet.
He is nervous. He is doing that thing with his lips, finding the page he wants in his notebook, talks to Shawn, stands, acknowledges the judge, comes to stand in front of us. Does he know that he has done a good job? Does he realize he has planted doubt in my head? He is nervous.
Doesn’t mention Shawn. Goes through the evidence, goes through Artie’s testimony. Reminds us that Arthur was given a deal, that Artie gave four different versions of what happened…that he only know the name ‘Shawn’ from the letter from Jeff’s wife. Mentions the tears on the jeans, mentions the lack of DNA on the bandannas…goes through it all. Reminds us he doesn’t have to prove his client is innocent, that the prosecution has to prove his guilt. No pleas, no groveling…just the facts…as he wants us to see them.
Now the Prosecutor. He comes off as smug to me…smug and cocky and overconfident. He isn’t nervous. Does he know that Booker has done a better job than he has? Does he know we doubt the evidence? Does he know that he wasted all that time on Neons and white boys and never showed us beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shawn is guilty? Does he know that his assistant was unprepared? Does he care? Does he know that we think he was unprepared and incompetent?
He goes through the evidence. Fine, Jeff’s wife could back up what Arthur said…then where is she? Oh…they can’t find her? That is lame. He’s talking down to us. Hmmmmm.
Both done. Now what?
We all shift a little, look at the judge. He clears his throat and begins… “You are not to take notes on what I am about to say to you. Please put your pads and pens on the floor. You will be able to take your notes with you for deliberation, but I want you all to just listen to me.” We all sit up a bit straighter. I want to make sure I hear everything. This is really happening…I’m going to have to help decide what happens to Shawn. Judge talks about the instructions he gave us about the law before the trial started. I want to write this down! I always forget things!
“It was the job of the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty. The defense does not have to prove him innocent. You are to assume the Defendant is innocent as you begin your deliberations. The first thing you must do is choose a foreperson.” Black Chick and Jamestown Bar Chick both poke me in the back at the same time. “That’s you!” Judge looks at me. I know my face is bright red, can feel the heat rise. Shit. Heart sinks. I have to be a grown up. Can I do it? I stop listening for a second while it sinks in. What if Fredonia Chick wants it? No, she won’t go against Black Chick and the Jamestown Girls. It will be me. Well then, I’ve come a long way since I was quiet and shy. I can do this.
How the hell do I do it? Shit
Judge is talking about lunch, about sequestration….I am thinking about how to organize things so we proceed to a verdict. What to do first? Shit. The judge stops….coughs…he starts talking about ‘corrupted testimony’. I’m busy thinking about how to get the job done when I realize what he is saying. He is telling us that Arthur’s testimony was corrupted, that it can’t be trusted. Oh. OH! He is very subtle, this man…and good. I wonder if the Prosecutor realizes what the judge just told us. I wonder about the other jurors? Oh…