Monday, June 17, 2013

And the Verdict is...

So a couple of weeks ago I was called to jury duty.  I dragged myself down to the courthouse and patiently awaited for my release without serving just like every other time.  But it was not to be.

They called us into the courtroom.  One potential juror after another was dismissed.  For some crazy reason they decided to keep me.  They asked me if even though I had been a victim of crime and have a police officer in my family if I could be fair.  I really hoped I could be.

It was a police action shooting.  The defendant was accused of attempted murder of a police officer.  The prosecutor slowly built the scene of the event, street by street, car by car, officer by officer.  I felt like I was on Law and Order.  Lt. Van Buren was a witness for the prosecution.  Jack McCoy teased the facts out of each witness and painstakingly presented each piece of evidence.  I could picture the scene.  Then Abby from NCIS showed up and led us through the evidence and taught how to match bullets to guns.  I could smell the gun powder.  We watched her walk the scene.  

Then the officer who must have a higher purpose took the stand.  The defendant shot at him with a semi-auto gun that got jammed after 2 point blank shots had missed him.  His wife in the courtroom not showing emotion. He stopped a couple of times to collect himself.  It was poignant.

Did you know that officers never cut directly around the corner after a suspect as they can be ambushed.  They "slice the pie."  They swing wide to get the full picture of the area.  The officer that finally downed the suspect after much chasing and shooting was amazing to listen to.  He recalled the events like Briscoe, but was more savvy like Ziva David.  

After building the case with vivid detail the prosecution rested.  The defense stood up and the defense rested.

Then the psychiatrist and psychologists testified.  The defendant had a mental disease but all felt he was lucid that day.  He had worked, he had gone to a bar, he then threatened some people and that's when everything turned bad.  That's when the officer caught up with him.  That's when he pulled out his gun at point blank range and fired.  After falling back, the officer returned fire hitting the suspect.  The suspect turned and ran, finally being brought down blocks later - a clean shot to the shoulder by a 27 year veteran of the force.  Clearly he played the role of Gibbs, stoic, experienced, and confident.

Then 12 angry men went into the jury room to deliberate.  It is just like in the movies.  There is always that one person.  That one who doesn't pay attention to the facts and evidence, who has an agenda.  We ate pizza, we voted.  We voted over and over and over.  We told the judge we were at an impasse. He told us to keep deliberating.  Just when I was ready to go all spider monkey on the one outlier, he asked us all to holds hands and pray.  WTH?  Facts, evidence...there is no praying in the courtroom.  He said a very, very nice prayer and then clearly and quickly said - guilty.

We returned with the verdict and Judge Judy read it. Guilty. Guilty with mental defect. Guilty. We all stated we agreed with it.

Then came the hard part.  After a couple of days listening to the story, learning a lot, and deliberating someone's long term fate, I thought that was all the emotion there would be.  I was wrong.

As we left the building to go to our cars, there he was...the officer, and his wife.  She hugged me so tight and cried.  She was pregnant.  He was emotional as well shaking everyone's hands.  I was the last.  I didn't know what to say.  He had faced death head on and lived.  I shook his hand and just simply said, "There must be great things ahead for you.  Good luck."  

Away I went to my car.  It is an experience I will remember for a long time.  I will continue to watch all my cop shows knowing there is always poetic license, but there is always truth.