I’ve been called to jury duty before, but I’ve never had to go in until now. Unluckily for me, I drew number two and, after answering a few questions, took my place in the jury box. I’d never wanted to be on a jury, but it was also kind of exciting to sit with a group of people and decide if someone was guilty or not. Although in my case, I’d know the truth without all the arguments. At least that’s what I thought, but it wasn’t so cut and dry.
The case was about a cop whose husband had used her gun to commit suicide…only the prosecution was trying to prove that she killed her husband for the million dollar life insurance policy. Of course, I knew right off the bat she was innocent, and her lawyers presented a pretty good case for her. Throughout the trial, most of the other jurors thought she was innocent too, but once we were dismissed to deliberate, things got messy.
The jury foreman, Lance, a big guy who worked in construction, started pushing for a guilty verdict. Not only that, but he was getting mean about it. It bothered me, but I didn’t think it mattered until after lunch when we took another vote. Everyone but me had changed their not-guilty votes to guilty. That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
By this time, the jurors were tired of the whole thing and wanted to go home. It didn’t take long before everyone knew that I was the lone not-guilty voter. Lance turned his hard gaze on me, but I wasn’t about to let him bulldoze me like he had the others.
“What’s your problem?” I asked. “I know you’re pushing for a guilty verdict, but it seems like there’s more to it. It seems like it’s personal.”
He sputtered out a denial, but I’d hit a nerve and I heard him thinking about his nephew who’d been sent to prison. Surprise washed over me to learn that the defendant was the cop who’d arrested his nephew and also testified against him during the subsequent trial.
Now it all made sense, but how was I supposed to handle this without giving myself away? I stood before speaking and made sure I had everyone’s attention. “I’ve noticed how Lance has bullied all of you into a guilty verdict, but I refuse to back down. This is not the time to let someone who has a personal agenda against the cops determine the verdict of this case. We have been given a task to determine if the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After all the evidence, I can’t say that she’s guilty. How can you?”
I heard many of them thinking that I was right. They didn’t like being bullied, but Lance wasn’t about to give up so easily. He made some points, but I refuted each one of them, which also served to convince the others that I was right and there was a reasonable doubt.
But then he got in my face. “I’m not bullying anyone, but that cop’s guilty.”
“Shall we have another vote?” I asked. We all agreed, and this time everyone said not-guilty, except for Lance. He stared daggers at me, thinking that I was ruining everything. He wasn’t going to back down, so I had no choice but to reveal his secret. “I know why you’re doing this, Lance. It’s because of your nephew.” His face went slack in shock, so I continued. “It’s not going to work. If you don’t vote not-guilty, I’ll tell the judge and you’ll have to face the consequences of lying to the court. You’ll have to pay a heavy fine and you might even go to jail. Do you want that to happen?”
He glanced at the others jurors and knew it was over. With a clenched jaw, he changed his verdict, and I let out a sigh of relief, especially since I was just making that stuff up about the fine and jail time…but it could be true.
After it was all over, Lance waited for me outside the building and I had no way to avoid him. “How did you know?” he asked, more curious than angry.
“Look, I know you’re not happy about you nephew, mostly because of the pain he’s caused your sister, but I think you know deep down that he was dealing drugs and probably got what he deserved. It was just a fluke that this cop happened to be the one who arrested him, and you decided she was guilty for spite, but taking it out on her is not going to help your nephew…or your sister. Now…why don’t you go home to your wife and your baby boy, and be grateful for what you have?”
His eyes bulged and he gasped. “You? How did you…”
I shook my head. “Goodbye Lance.” I turned and walked away, hearing him swear up a storm in his mind. At least he was also thinking that I was someone to avoid in the future because I was freaky, and maybe even an alien. The alien part surprised me, but I was glad to know that he’d leave me alone.
So…that’s my story about jury duty. I sure hope I don’t have to do anything like that in the future. Although Chris did tell me that as soon as I was done, he needed my help with a case he’s working on. Yikes! With my luck, he’ll probably want me to listen to the jury during the trial and find out what they’re thinking…then figure out how to sway their votes. I really don’t want to do that, but I guess if his client is innocent, I could. But what if he’s guilty? Argh! Life was so much easier before I could read minds.