Friday, July 4, 2014

What a Week!

Well, SILENCE OF THE LAMB’S WOOL is in bookstores, and the assorted guests posts I’m doing should start showing up soon. I got a notice that the first review is out and thankfully it’s good.

I still plan to do a drawing on Facebook, but next week. I want to try sending out a newsletter as well. But now my real focus is finishing the copy edit of KNOT GUILTY and writing the rest of the third book in the Yarn Retreat Series.

I am done with jury duty. I was called in on Tuesday and I think I was the only person who was glad to be there. To me the day was an adventure. I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Would I be called to a court room? Would I be questioned? And most of all would I end up on a jury?

None of it was in my control, so I just went with the flow. Shortly after I checked in, I along with about sixty people, were sent to a court room in the criminal building. I was given the number 6, so I knew for sure I’d be questioned for the jury. When we filed in the room, my seat was in the jury box.

We found out it was a murder case. The guy next to me started making whimpering noises when he heard that. I looked at the defendant with new interest. He was a middle aged man, nicely dressed in a suit and since English was not his first language, had on earphones, though I don’t know. The interpreter was speaking loud enough, we could all hear her.

The judge tried to keep the atmosphere in the court room light. He said he knew that none of us wanted to be there and we’d probably had been checking out the night before. He thanked us for coming in. The courtroom was actually very pleasant. The walls were a soft green and the jury chairs were comfortable and swivelled.

Of course, the atmosphere for the defendant was different. It struck me that at the end of the case, he could walk out a free man or go to prison for the rest of his life. What a heavy responsibility for the jury to get it right.

I both wanted to be on that jury and wanted to be excused, so I simply decided to let the chips fall as they may.

And then the judge read all the names of the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and all the witnesses. He asked all of the potential jurors if they knew any of those people.

It didn’t register until I heard his name, but I knew the prosecutor. He is a friend of my son’s, and is actually an assistant district attorney. I thought the judge would dismiss me right then, but he didn’t. So, I figured maybe it didn’t matter.

Then they began going through the group, having us tell where we lived, what our juror number was (no names anymore), if we were married and had kids, our occupation and if we had prior jury experience. Then the judge added his own questions. It was interesting hearing what everyone had to say.

Surprisingly, I think out of the thirty or so people who were interviewed, there was only one divorced person, though there was one woman who said she’d been separated from her husband for forty years. Yes, forty years. Now that no one seems to be exempt from jury duty, there was much more of a cross section of people. And only one person said he was retired.

I noticed that both spouses worked in the people who said they were married. Their clothing choices were all over the place, too. I don’t think anyone had to worry about being over dressed.

We broke for lunch and then the attorneys had a chance to talk to the group. The defense attorney wanted to see if we understood that just because a homicide had been committed that it didn’t mean it was murder. From what he said, I gathered he was going to claim that the defendant acted in self defense, shooting some one who lived in the same place he did after they started a fight with him.

When he was done the prosecutor had his turn. He brought up a witness who resided in the same place as the defendant and the victim and he wondered how the potential jurors would react to his testimony. I surprised myself by speaking up and saying that you’d have to wonder if the witness was being honest or taking sides.

After that, individual people spoke privately with the judge, attorneys and the court reporter in a back room. It turned out, all those people were excused from the jury a few minutes later. Then the attorney’s had their turn to release people from those questioned. The prosecutor excused several people. The defense had their turn and said they were okay with the jury. The prosecutor took off some more people and then it went back to the defense attorney. He conferred with the defendant and they took off one person. Me.

I guess they did care that I knew the prosecutor.

I was relieved and disappointed at the same time. And exhausted.

What a day!


Tracy Weber said...

Congratulations on your book release! I've been on a jury 3 times and on jury duty 4. It's quite a responsibility.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Let me add my congrats on the release of your new book, Betty! And it sounds as if you'll have some fodder for adding a jury voir dire in a book one of these days, even though you didn't serve on this one.

Betty Hechtman said...

Tracy, that's a lot of time on a jury. You must be just the type they want.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, the whole day was so interesting even though I was totally wiped out the next day.

John said...

I've just got a copy of your new novel and it's great! Can't stop reading it. Glad that I bought it! Thanks for your hard works.

Hester said...

I always thought it would be fascinating to serve on a jury. I enjoyed your post with all the details. I've been in a courtroom while the prospective jurors were being questioned. That is as close as I got. Somehow or another, my mother ended up serving on 3 juries during her lifetime.
Hester from Decatur, GA

Betty Hechtman said...

John, thank you for letting me know you're enjoying my book!

Betty Hechtman said...

Hester, the whole process is so interesting. I would never try to get out of it. I'm glad you found the post interesting.