Jury Duty: Testimony

We return after lunch and hear opening remarks by the attorneys.  The prosecutor lays out the state’s case by saying they will prove that the defendant willfully eluded police and drove in a reckless manner, which is a felony.  He says they will have lots of witnesses and charts and photos and maps and stuff to prove their case.

The defense attorney says this case is all about perspective.  She talks about how we have all experienced times when we may have heard something entirely different from a friend in relating a story.  Two people hearing the same thing … hear something entirely different.  Perspective.  Then she launches into an analogy about two groups of people rafting down a river.  They both see some markings on a cliff.  One group believes the markings to be the result of eons of weather.  The other group says it is the result of a recent flood.  I’m like:  “What the hell is she talking about?” Now I’m really thirsty.  All about perspective.

I notice the defendant is twitching and constantly moving around in his chair.  His attorney says he has a bad back and not to be distracted by his obvious discomfort.  The defendant is a little guy who appears to be in his early twenties.  He is pretty stoic throughout the trial.

The prosecution’s case revolves around the testimony of four different state patrolmen and one “civilian” witness.  In varying degrees they all talk about how the defendant ignored the pull over signal from the cop and then crashed his bike driving on the shoulder of the off ramp.   Two officers say they asked the defendant:  “Why did you run?”  They both say that the defendant responded:  “I made a bad decision” and “I was scared.”  In neither case did the defendant say he was unaware of being chased which is the crux of his defense.

They show lots of overhead photos of the I-5 stretch where the “chase” occurred and the crash site of the off ramp.  There are also photos of the wrecked bike and the damage to a car that the bike hit.

The defense questioning of the officers is mostly about where they were standing on the shoulder when waving down the defendant.  Also, she asked a lot about the specific hand signal that was given to pull over.  And how far away the biker was when the cop got in his car and began to pursue him.  Finally, she asked where the nearest gas station was to the   off ramp where the crash occurred.

We are now at the end of the day for court.  The judge tells us to return to the jury room at 9:45 the next morning.  He cautions us to not talk about the case to anybody including family or other jury members.  Damn.  I was gonna have my peers over for some beers and nachos and watch 12 Angry Men and see if we can’t get some deliberation ideas.  Besides, we should get to know each other before we start arguing, right?  We are also told that we should not loiter in the hallway if the jury room is not open. 

Speaking of the jury room … it is about the size of a walk-in closet.  There is a table with 13 chairs, a microwave, some old magazines and two bathrooms.  Oh, and a mini-refrigerator.  We are told we can bring food and warm it in the microwave.  The room is so small that I have to walk sideways to get around the table.  No windows, either.  I’m thinking it is designed for fast decisions.  You really don’t want to spend any more time in there than necessary.

When I get home I immediately tell my wife about the case.  She doesn’t render a decision but seems to be leaning toward guilty.  Mostly she was happy to have me gone for the whole day.

Next:  Guilty or Not Guilty

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