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Response to demtenjeep (Original post)

Tue Apr 20, 2021, 12:52 AM

54. Just a few times. A bogus injury, a very serious injury, and a serial rapist...

Once the jury was impaneled so fast it made my head spin, & I think it was my question during the morning that caused the complainant to quit during lunch.

A young woman, a college student with no money, rolled into the rear bumper of a middle aged woman’s fancy car in a parking lot. The middle aged woman claimed pain (neck injury) and damages (to the car). I listened carefully, and as always, with a neutral face. There were big photos of the allegedly damaged car. There was something about the extent of the complaint that bothered me — it seemed disproportionate.

I asked: “Can you please hold up that picture so I can see it?” I frowned slightly, because I saw no evidence of damage. Not a smudge. So did everybody else. During the lunch break a fellow juror commented to me that he thought it was a bogus case, but I just rolled my eyes, mindful that we had been warned not to discuss anything.

Got back after lunch and boom! We were notified it was over as soon as we sat down.

Second one, years later, took us some days to hear all the evidence, and only one or two days to reach a verdict. A landlord was being sued by a tenant for severe burns she received from an improperly installed kitchen stove. It was Thanksgiving and she had a turkey in the oven and a tall pot of rapidly boiling water on the back of the stove. As she bent down over the open oven, the pot of water slid down and spilled across her back.

Fortunately the injured woman had a friend there who got her in the shower and sluiced her down with cold water before the ambulance came, but she still had significant hospital time and a couple of months of daily debridement at the Burn Unit, to which she could not drive herself.

So of course the landlord’s attorney brought in lots of technical evidence to show that it could never have happened like that. There were charts and photos. There were exacting measurements of the degree of tilt (such a teeny-tiny degree of tilt). There were testimonials about what a nice man the landlord was.

And indeed, he was not one of our notorious slumlords, of which we have a few. He was a self-made immigrant with calloused hands. At the time of this lawsuit he had purchased 3 houses on his block, some inhabited by family, some by tenants. He was accustomed to doing most if not all of the labor on his properties himself.

And therein lay the problem with the newly-installed stove. I don’t think he ever read the instructions — they were found in a package on the counter top. He figured he knew how to do this, he’d installed appliances before, and he did it.

But as I pointed out to my fellow jurors, there were at least 3 points at which he had failed to follow manufacturer’s instructions, not just the leveling issue. I said, I’m not an engineer or mechanic, but my dad worked for Lockheed Aircraft and every job he did around the home was as meticulous as I assumed his aircraft work was — electrical, plumbing, you name it. As for the leveling and the teeny-tiny degree of tilt — I turned to a man on the jury who was a home builder and again pointed out that while I didn’t have his expertise, isn’t there something important about that? And all of a sudden it was the home builder who got it, and who explained it, and by golly we all found for the injured woman.

The third one was emotionally gruesome. A young man was accused of raping a young woman at the beach. They were both students at the community college, I think. We had to sit all day listening while the attorneys tried to choose a jury, then were all told to come back in a week.

I had been among those who raised my hand yes when asked if I believed I could be impartial, but once I got home I became haunted as I tried to remember the names of all the women and girls who over time had told me about how they’d been raped. I could hardly sleep. I remembered my own childhood molestation. In my life I have been pretty good at compartmentalizing bad things so I could just get on with it, but this just broke down the defenses.

The following week we again assembled and listened to attorney-talk. Among other things, we were asked to review about 20 names on a whiteboard, a number of them from a county about 200 miles away — did we know any of them? Uh no. Because they would be coming to testify about his prior behaviors. Had we heard of a case there in which the defendant and several of his friends had been accused of assaulting a girl or girls in the restroom of the high school they attended? Because they’d been accused, not convicted. Oh shit no. He came to my town dragging this shadow. I’m sure his parents thought he’d be getting a fresh start.

At some point after that the judge asked us again if we had any doubts about our ability to go forward as impartial jurors, and if so, he would be glad to see us one by one in a separate room. It was kind of shocking how many women raised their hands, not just myself. I was dismissed out of that side-room almost before I could get the words out.

Later on I heard that the young man took a plea deal for 6 years, no trial. I’m sure he’s been out several years by now. For his own and everybody else’s sake, I hope he reformed, but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.







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demtenjeep Apr 19 OP
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LineReply Just a few times. A bogus injury, a very serious injury, and a serial rapist...
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