Friday, July 02, 2010

They have spoken against me with a lying tongue...Psalm 109:2

Just in case anyone is wondering why we would leave all five kids at home by themselves, I don't really have a good answer. Up until a few weeks prior, I had never done such a thing, except for a quick trip to the store or post office. Even though M is very capable of handling things now that he is 16, I had never really had a reason before. The day after Memorial Day I was called for jury duty. I decided to go and serve my time, but due to miscommunications and other reasons, the court sent everyone home until the next Tuesday. However, the night before we found out the case was canceled and I didn't have to go back.

The following week after that, The Man had to go to court. He was going to be on the other side of the jury box. When we first found out over two years ago that he was being sued for malpractice, it didn't occur to me that I would go to court also...and two years ago I probably wouldn't have. After talking it over, we decided if the kids could stay home while I went to jury duty, they could probably handle it while I went to court with The Man.

The first week, our church was doing VBS. Since M was being counted on to play the piano for that, we decided that I would go ahead and take the kids to VBS in the mornings and just go up to court in the afternoons. The lawyer told us on Monday evening that they expected jury selection to take place Tuesday morning with opening statements in the afternoon, there would be no court on Wednesday due to state budget cuts, testimony on Thursday, and maybe a verdict on Friday. Great expectations!

What really happened: Jury selection all day Tuesday and Thursday morning. I arrived at the court house on Thursday afternoon to find out that there were major juror issues. The judge ended up canceling court in the afternoon due to an undisclosed emergency. By the time I arrived in court on Friday afternoon, the jury had been sorted out and the lawyers gave their opening statements. The plaintiffs also started their case.

The next week (last week) I spent all day with The Man in court. I'll just say here that the judge had a nice chair. The jurors had nice chairs. The plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, bailiff, court reporter, and clerk all had nice comfy-looking chairs. The wooden benches that the rest of us observers had were not comfortable. Pregnant women should not spend all day sitting on wooden benches. Just so you know. Next time (ha!) I'll at least take a cushion.

Although it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience, I am fascinated by the judicial process. Watching (but not talking to!) the jurors, the banter that went on when the jurors were not present, the reactions of the jurors to different things that were done or said...that part I liked. I didn't like sitting there trying not to stand up and yell, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" The nice, legal way of saying that same thing? "Objection, Your Honor! Misstatement of the evidence!" A "Sustained" means the judge happens to agree. Fascinating.

The Man's new favorite phrase is "Assumes facts not in evidence." That one was also heard quite a bit through the trial. I have a feeling I'll be hearing it a lot from now on.

By Tuesday afternoon all the witnesses had said what they were going to say. Wednesday morning the jury instructions were ironed out and the plaintiffs' lawyer gave his closing statement. After lunch The Man's lawyer gave his closing statement and then the other lawyer got to say a few more things. Then, finally, the case was in the hands of the 12 jurors. Were they paying attention? Could they see through all the testimony that the plaintiffs didn't have a good case? Through the case we had prayed that all would be to the glory of God, no matter the outcome. Of course, we had our hopes as to which way we preferred the verdict to be.

We left the court house and went for a walk to buy J's birthday gift (his birthday had been the day before). As we approached the store, the lawyer called and said the jury had a question. We went back to the court house to hear the question. The reporter said it would take her until the following morning to locate the parts of testimony the jurors wanted to hear again. The judge gave instructions for them to keep deliberating.

We left the court house again, but this time I forgot to turn my cell phone on as we left the court room. We made it to the store, bought the gift, and as we were leaving the store, I remembered to turn on my phone. At that point I got the message about Sacagawea's bleeding head. I called and talked to the kids as we drove up to a park near the court house to wait. As I was still on the phone with the kids, the lawyer called The Man again. The jury had a verdict.

We went back to the court house to hear the verdict: Not negligent. Since only 9 of the 12 had to agree on a verdict in a civil case, the fact that they didn't have an answer to their question wasn't a big issue.

That was it. I was telling The Man later that it was very anti-climatic after all the stress and angst of the last few years. Oh, well, I'll take it over the alternative. I have a lot more thoughts on the situation, but those will have to wait for another time as this post is far too long.

OK, post #2 for July is now done! Post #3 is all set up and should post automatically in the morning. I'm on a roll! Is anyone else joining me?

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Glad everything turned out in your favor! How stressful. I didn't know you guys were going through all that.