As we stepped off the elevator, we joined the line that had formed outside the double wooden doors to the Board of County Commissioners room. “A jury will be picked today and the trial will begin tomorrow,” we heard as we filed in and were handed a clipboard with paperwork to complete.
I found a seat in the corner of the back row. Perfect. The room filled quickly and it was obvious that people-watching was going to be more interesting than the book I’d packed in my bag. As the two ladies to my right and I introduced ourselves, we were amused to discover that we were all three “Patricia’s”.
When everyone was seated, the clerk presented basic instructions. We would watch a video on courtroom protocol and the responsibilities of a juror, and then we could take a short coffee break before the judge arrived. The video was interesting and informative, but the judge entered the room before we could take a break. As a group, we were sworn in and asked to respond to basic questions regarding citizenship and our possible status as a felon. The judge instructed us further in the process of choosing a jury, and explained how we could respond to questioning that we’d prefer to answer in private. The bottom line was that nothing we said under oath in the courtroom could be answered privately. Every word would become part of the court record, but we could request a smaller audience. At that moment, I could not imagine what line of questioning for a potential juror needed to be answered privately, especially me. The defendant was on trial, not me. I thought.
The judge continued. Twenty prospective jurors had been chosen from the larger group summoned to be considered as jurors for the case, but everyone was ordered to stay until the process had been completed. Immediately, the clerk began calling out the names of the twenty, who were told to form a line outside the door in the order in which they were called for the bailiff to escort upstairs to the courtroom. Everyone else was reminded that they could get a cup of coffee and move about as long as they stayed close. I hope I’m not one of the twenty. I whispered to the Patricia closest to me. I’m desperate for a break.
Just when I thought the clerk had called out twenty names and I could make a bee-line for the break room, I heard Juror 46, Patricia Hunter.
Yes. I said I’d tell the rest of the story today, but I’ve decided otherwise. It’s more fun (for me) and interesting (for you) if I spread it out over the week, don’t you think?