I’ve been off in a cramped little room yesterday and this morning — I got picked for jury duty! I’ve already been asked how a godless liberal college professor survived the screening to end up on a jury, and it was easy. In previous trials I got picked on by the prosecuting attorney about my opinions of police officers — I don’t trust them — and got excluded because there’s one thing prosecutors want, and that’s deference to authority. This time, they didn’t even ask me any questions, because they spent so much time filtering out prospective jurors who knew or were related to the defendant and the witnesses, and since this is a small town, everyone knows everyone, except me, because I’m a cloistered nerd at the university. I skated in based on my ignorance of local gossip, I guess.
It was an eye-opening experience, because I got to see the other side of town. This was a domestic violence case in a small rural midwestern town, so you can guess who I had to stand in judgment over: poor people intermittently employed in thankless, low-paying jobs, who have a history of meth use, and in the case of the victim, was also bipolar…but she’d given up on her meds and was instead self-medicating with methamphetamine (which doesn’t work at alleviating the symptoms of mental illness). It was a tawdry, ugly case, where the defendant had angrily and viciously punched his partner, and the partner wanted to retract her initial statement and claimed to have forgotten everything that happened that day because she’d been so high, and also she really loved her man and wanted to get back together with him.
We were in one of those situations where the only just recourse would have been to separate these two, give them intense but caring treatment for their addictions, and find them productive, stable employment and a life where they could better themselves, but nope, all we could do is say on the basis of the evidence presented in court whether the guy was guilty or not guilty on two counts of abuse. We found him guilty of one (there was a photo of a nasty, fist-sized bruise taken the day of), and not guilty of the other (we could see he was capable of the crime, and probably did it, but without physical evidence we couldn’t say that the state had made its case).
We learned afterwards, and this was definitely not a factor in the decision, that this guy had prior convictions for domestic violence, making this a felony, and that he’s probably going to spend a handful of years in prison for it. All because I raised my hand in the deliberation room. Well, and because he was in the habit of punching and choking his partner.
So how was your day? I’m going to have to find something uplifting to cheer me up. I may go into the lab and tend to spiders, or something.