Friday, December 15, 2006

Jury duty

I was called for jury duty a couple of months ago. I had to report last Monday, December 4th. I don't think I had mentioned it online, and I am glad I didn't, because I ended up being chosen for a 2-week trial. We weren't supposed to talk about the trial until it was over, so I didn't think it was a good idea to broadcast over the Internet that I was on jury duty for the next two weeks.

I'm still not going to say a lot about it, for several different reasons. One, I don't know that I should go blabbing to everybody about it; for that reason, only people I talk to on a daily basis will know anything more than the most basic details. Two, I don't want to encourage any type of retribution from anyone involved, so no searchable details (i.e. keyword phrases, such as names or places) will be mentioned. And three, I just don't feel comfortable saying too much.

That being said, I will say this: the case was a sexual abuse case. More specifically (and horrifically), a father had performed oral sex on his preteen-aged adoptive daughters. Naturally, the defense was trying to prove that the girls were lying. However, we (the jury) didn't think so, and found him guilty on all counts.

The past two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride - to say the least. Listening to the girls' testimonies and the initial interviews with them that were video taped during the early stages of the investigation was emotionally taxing, and simply paying attention to the trial every day was mentally exhausting. I have never been so tired before in my life, as I was at the close of every day.

And finally, I have to say that throughtout the entire trial my heart goes out to those girls. The maternal instinct in me wishes I could have taken them home with me and protected them and helped them start a new life. Naturally, though, I can't have any contact with them, for fear of giving the defense grounds for a mistrial. Therefore, my blog will have to suffice. The girls will probably never know who I am, let alone find this blog - but nevertheless, I want to say once and for all that my thoughts and my heart are with them. If I could give them more than just my thoughts - if I could help them to be strong and get through this - I would.

Unfortunately, as a result of all of this, I got very little work done over the past two weeks. I was incredibly lucky that all of the people who were expecting work from me were very understanding of what I was going through. I don't think I could have made it through this with my sanity if it weren't for their understanding - it was hard enough just to sit through court every single day.

Despite how difficult this was, however, I have to say that it was an incredible experience, one that I wouldn't change for anything. Witnessing a trial of this size and importance was an eye-opening event. (They say it's not like in Hollywood, but you'd be surprised how much it actually is like in the books and the movies.) Also, I feel good about being a part of such an important decision. I think it also helps that I believe wholeheartedly in the verdict we ultimately decided on. On my first day, I was fully aware that I was on the brink of a life-changing event - and even now, in hindsight, I fully recognize how much of an impact the experience has made on my life, my thoughts, and my experience - as a writer as well as a human being.

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