Assault with intent to kill
“It is not just we who are different if we are in Christ. Everything is new. We live in an entirely different milieu if we are in Christ…” ~ Marva Dawn
Two counts of assault with intent to kill. I listened attentively as the judge read aloud the multiple criminal charges against the defendant. While we were still downstairs, the judge had pointed out the defendant and his attorney when they entered the room, but because both men were dressed in suits and the deputy stood behind them, it wasn’t clear to me who was the defendant and who was the lawyer. Clever tactic I thought. Especially considering the weighty charges.
When we entered the courtroom, the bailiff seated us in the tiered jury box to the right of the bench, according to our place in the line. I was now juror number 17 in the fourth row at the top. The prosecuting attorney’s table faced the bench on the jury’s side of the courtroom, while the defendant and his counsel sat at a table across the room. A podium, the court reporter and the stenotype machine were located in front of the judge’s bench. Several spectators, including the alleged victim, were seated in the floor and balcony galleries.
We were sworn in again and the judge re-emphasized the importance of answering every question truthfully and completely. A false answer from a juror could lead to a mistrial and charges of contempt of court. No problem, I thought.
At first questions from the judge were directed to all of us as a group. Do you know the accused? Do you know the alleged victim? Do you know the attorney’s for either side? A list of possible witnesses was read. Do you know any of the witnesses? Each time we were asked to respond affirmatively with a show of hands while the judge and attorney’s made note of our responses. The community is small and some of the witnesses were deputies. Many of us knew someone.
The judge continued. Have you ever been the victim of a crime against your property? Several hands were raised and the judge and attorneys made notes. I realized later that I should have raised my hand, as well, but at that moment I’d forgotten about the wallet and ring I’d been forced to hand over in the dark.
Have you ever been the victim of a crime against your person? For a second I couldn’t breath. It had been a lifetime ago and I was a different person then. I raised my hand and the judge made a note on his paper. Relieved that the questioning appeared to be over, I relaxed and took a deep breath.
My relief was not based on fact. The questioning was about to turn personal and probing.
to be continued…
Photo: US Supreme Court building in Washington,DC – May 2003.