Monday, February 15, 2010

Random True Stories

So over the summer i got selected to be an alternate on a Grand Jury in my County. The Jury convened every Wednesday for 5-6 hours hearing 30-50 cases a day, all summer (all told hearing 600-700 cases total). I avoided cell phone calls i didn't recognize all summer but they left me a message near the end of summer saying they would need me to report for the final 2 weeks.

The Grand Jury met in a room that was similar to a lecture hall. (similar to this one)
It was super swanky. Giant cushy chairs and all Oak desks. So what would happen is the District Attorney and one of the arresting officers would come in and explain a case. Then all we did was vote if there was enough evidence for it to go to trial. That's it. No judges, no criminals. So the first day i report we are hearing cases that differ from domestics and D.U.I.'S to rape and attempted murder.

Of the 16 jurors in the room one older guy is really getting on  my nerves. After the cases are presented the D.A.'s and police leave the room and our foreman has us vote. And after every vote this guy (short white guy,late 40's early 50's) makes a joke. A bad, dull, old man kinda joke. For instance he made a don't drink and drive you'll spill your drink joke after we heard a D.U.I. case. So that morning we heard a case where a woman had a party, and after the party was over, a friend of a friend came back and asked if it was OK for him to come in and eat, because he wasn't sober enough to drive. When the woman let him in he attacked and sexually assaulted her. The police officer said she was so badly beaten that she couldn't see he was a cop because both of her eyes were swollen shut. After the vote the old man made a joke about the food must have been cold or something similar and i was floored. Floored at the callous disregard of the old man and equally floored that no one in the room said anything to him. Lastly i was mad at myself for not saying anything. I had not been with these people all summer and i felt like an outsider. They all knew each others names and had formed clicks. But i was fuming...

Hours later we heard a case of a teenage girl who finally got the courage to tell her school counselor she was being sexually abused by her dad. He had been abusing her since she was 6 years old. We were forced to hear details that literally made me feel nauseous and dizzy. One of the stories involved a horrible act committed to the girl during a football game. After the vote the old man made the following joke. "A flag should have been thrown for back field in motion" and i lost it...

Me-"can you try to be a little less fucking offensive?!"
Him-"I'm not being offensive..."
Me-"You have been pissing me off since i got here.. I don't want to hear you say another fucking word! How dare you make a joke out of a girl being raped by her father? Keep your mouth shut !"
(at this point i just lost it i was standing and shouting at this asshole in front of everyone.)

Afterword everyone was thanking me and such but i felt hollow. I was mad i lost my temper but i was more mad at all these jurors who had let this fucktard be an asshole all summer. The next week it was the freaking talk of the courthouse. What bothered me about all the talk was it all had a "the scary tattooed guy stood up to the old crazy guy so all tattooed people aren't monsters" undertone.

At the beginning of the summer the D.A. said the cases would stay with us forever afterword. The only thing that stayed with me is my continued belief to always speak up and never count on anyone to stand up for what's right.

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