Yesterday, I served my first day of District Court jury duty. It was uneventful. A witness failed to show up, so the trial was delayed. The most exciting part was hearing an angry lady in a conference room adjoining the court scream “You, you, and YOU can all KISS. MY. ASS.”
I’ve no clue what she was on about, but her point was made and made well.
The last time I served was about a decade ago for Circuit Court. I sat on a sexual harassment case. A lady was suing a local franchised car wash and her boss for harassment. The jury consisted of twelve folks (District Court only has 6 jurors). She wanted a couple million dollars for harassment and pain and suffering.
The plaintiff had witnesses that saw inappropriate touching by the male boss. Multiple co-workers heard the boss make lewd remarks and suggestions. The highlight (nadir) of the proceedings happened when the judge asked the defendant to reenact a particular sexually aggressive move the plaintiff liked to do.
So the plaintiff stood in the middle of the court and made an X motion with his arm toward his crotch and said “I got your lunch RIGHT HERE.” It was so ludicrous and immature that several people couldn’t help but laugh. That drew some gavel and warnings from the bench.
The case took a WEEK. Eight hours a day (sometimes more).
When the judge finally let the jury deliberate, I went into deliberation thinking it was a cut and dry decision. The guy obviously harassed, bullied, and harmed the woman’s emotional state. Ten fellow jurors DISAGREED. They said the woman could have done more to discourage the behavior. They said she was ugly and probably enjoyed the attention. They said the woman was being a greedy bitch and that 2 million was outrageous. 10 people voted Not Guilty. They eventually got 11 not guilty votes.
I argued that by the letter of the law she was a victim of harassment. Perhaps the 2 million was a bit much. I tried to convince them to grant her 25,000 plus legal costs. Nope.
In this case, 11 not guilty votes were enough to acquit the defendant.
That jury experience was an eye-opener. It definitely sapped any remaining faith in humanity that I might have had.
Fortunately, District Court handles the small beans stuff. Traffic ticket challenges. Misdemeanors. Even so, it won’t stop me from telling every defendant in my best Judge Dredd voice that “I AM THE LAW.”