When It’s Domestic Violence, but It Isn’t: A Jury Duty Experience

When did it become acceptable for a woman to hit her husband? Well, this was the matter at hand when my husband was called to serve as a juror. My jury duty was canceled soon after it began because the defendant’s lawyer became sick which was disappointing because I wanted to play God and place my judgment—I mean, it was attempted vehicular murder, and most of the individuals involved were intoxicated. But it was, apparently, not my destiny so I took pleasure in learning about what took place during my husband’s civic duty.

Jury Selection

As expected, James wanted to be excused from jury duty, but it was not to be—definitely, not from a lack of trying. He was hopeful that his red Trump 2016 t-shirt would aid in the process. Another young man who happened to have the same political views was removed because of a relation to a police officer which may or may not have led to the same trial results, anyway, had he stayed. Apparently, a woman, who supposedly decided to quit her career as a paralegal, blankly told James that there was no way he would be chosen. When the defense attorney asked if she sat and did not represent her client at all, would any of the potential jurors still find her client guilty, James plainly said, “Yes, I would find the client guilty and stupid for hiring you, and I would not feel bad at all.” James says that caused most of those present to laugh especially the lawyer.

The questioning of potential jurors continued, and he felt that he and two other males were receiving more of that attention since they showed some preference towards authority figures. Who knows? It seems that most of the potential jurors had few reasons to be excused; therefore, the selection seemed neverending. This was the opposite of my jury duty selection where almost everyone was a drinking buddy, long-time childhood friend, or a cousin of the defendant (I know as Chicanos, one has a large family, but come on). One lucky fellow managed to speak to the defendant’s husband during a break while another happened to be a farmer, and that particular day was one of the few watering days for those that still have water rights in this area. People began to eventually be excused for any minor reason; otherwise, the trial would have never begun.

There were six serving on the jury, including my husband, and I had him describe these individuals. Juror #1 was a tall, skinny, young Caucasian female with a taste for retro clothing and a clean-cut vibe. Juror #2 was a young man with a previous felony charge for a fist-fight who was away from both of his 6-month and 8-month-old children… Juror #3 was a young, chubby, young Hispanic female who, according to James, was an ardent feminist and possessed an attitude problem. Juror #4 was the self-proclaimed former paralegal (possible pathological liar) who happened to be the only juror who was not in her twenties. Juror #5 was a young Hispanic male who looked clean-cut with nondistinct features, and James could not remember much about him. Juror #6 was, of course, James who showed himself to be a comedic right-winger who may have caused some small level of entertainment and irritation.

The Attorneys and Trial Introductions

The trial began after a 1-hour lunch break. James thought it was worth describing the attorneys. It seems that the defendant’s lawyer had a large mass of curly, voluminous hair and favored rainbow snakeskin cowboy boots. His assistant wore a suit that was far too tight, according to James. Now, the prosecutor was a charming brunette with an overtly pleasing character. Her assistant seemed to remind James of Superman since he had to admit that the guy was decent-looking with the Clark Kent hair and glasses. It is likely that they were all in their late twenties to late thirties—Millennial attorneys, really, not that it’s a bad thing.

“Come at me big boys!”

That was how “Clark Kent” began the trial. It seems that those were the defendant’s words on the day that she allegedly hit her husband on the jaw. Of course, that was the perfect way to wake everyone out of their digestive slump. Two important questions made during the jury selection came to James’s mind since they were to define much of the trail: Would you still find someone guilty even if there was an eyewitness but the alleged victim later denies the occurrence? Does domestic abuse mainly pertain to a man hitting a woman or a woman hitting a man? “Snakeskin boots” stated that the jury would find a loving husband and wife separated by the state, and no crime was committed, there were no injuries, no evidence, and no pictures.

Witness: Paramedic

The first witness was the paramedic from the ambulance that responded to a call. When they arrived, a father and son led them into the house to a room that had no door. He mentioned that there were 4-12 empty wine bottles across the floor. The defendant was being treated as she was barely breathing while the head paramedic rubbed her. She awakened and refused further treatment which was her right. The woman, while signing some paperwork, began saying that she was kept imprisoned in that room.

So, after the woman’s hysteria calmed, the paramedic figured it was a domestic abuse case and that she was the victim; therefore, the police were called. The paramedic remembers that the son and husband were begging her to got to the hospital while they walked out of the house. As they were three-fourths of the way, outside, on the sidewalk (I honestly have a confusing visual with this information), there was commotion from inside the home. The paramedic says the husband walked away backward from the doorway which was easy to see since the porch light was on.  The man begins to yell that he was punched by his wife so the paramedic looked over the man’s red and swollen face for any serious damage, of which, there was none. When the police officers arrived, one spoke to the paramedics while the other arrested the woman for domestic abuse. The paramedic saw the cops enter the home, but it was mentioned that the police report did not include the police entering the home at all.

Witness: Ambulance Driver/Paramedic

The much younger paramedic was more of an aid since he had just started his career, and he was unable to recall much of what took place that evening. The paramedic agreed with the other paramedic that there was no door, there was a scattering of empty wine bottles, and that the woman refused their services.  He said that they were in the ambulance and not on the sidewalk when the punch happened—which would mean that neither would have had an accurate view of the alleged altercation. Also, he either did not see the husband’s face or forgot what it looked like after the man screamed that he was hit by his wife. He remembered trying to keep the husband and son separate from the wife. After the police came, all he recalled was that he and the other paramedic drove back to the hospital.

Witness: Police Officer

One of the police officers said they arrived at the scene without really knowing who was the victim of the domestic abuse. He said the sergeant entered the porch while the husband screamed that he was punched, and the son was in agreement with the father. The sergeant spent some time trying to communicate with the woman through the crack of the front door since she would not come out. Since she was so uncooperative and hysterical, the sergeant pulled her out and arrested her because she was a danger to her own safety. The police officer mentioned that he clearly remembers how the sergeant did not go inside the house. The ambulance was parked closer to the neighbor’s house which would make it farther away than what the paramedic in charge had stated. Basically, how well, based on the angle, could the paramedic in charge be able to see the alleged punch the wife gave her husband?

Witness: Police Sergeant

James noticed that, interestingly enough, the police sergeant sat in favor of the defense—I guess that was a sign. Of course, by this time, the sergeant had sat through all of the other testimonies which enabled him to have a clear and straightforward testimony of his own. He remembered how the woman was very intoxicated and all of her stories that included her being a prisoner in her own home. Apparently, there was a German Shepard-like dog inside the home, and that is why the woman would not let him come inside. The police sergeant was on the porch the whole time while the other police officer was mainly in front of the porch. She was vulgar and irrational; therefore, he decided to pull her out of her home. He did not see signs of domestic abuse from neither the wife or husband. He ordered a medical evaluation and detox for the woman which was given at the local hospital, afterward.

Witness: Defendant’s Husband

The husband feared for her life the whole time since she hated doctors so much, and she was obviously angry. He kept making a point that he loved his wife while shaking with emotion, and, of course, there were the 30+ years of heavenly matrimony. Apparently, his wife did not punch him, but she did push him to get away. Also, he had been a little intoxicated when all of that took place that night. He mentions that this is not the first court appearance, and the government continues keeping them apart.

Defendant’s Account

The accused did not remember anything when the prosecuting lawyer asked questions, yet had recollections when her own lawyer questioned her. Since she hates medical professions, it was interesting to find out why. It seems that her son was considered braindead and the doctors and nurses wanted to remove life support. She refused, and her son eventually awoke from his coma—of course, she had other less significant reasons, it seems. She was horrified when she woke up to a big burly man in full uniform with an iron chest on top of her. Then she glimpsed at another man towering over her on an air mattress (I clearly remember reading certain paperback novels with a similar storyline, haha).

She said she has dealt with her health issues by her own terms and choice. She was quickly seen and excused from the town hospital in about 5 minutes—of which James calls bullshit since he has worked at the hospital before, and there is no way any ER patient is likely to be released in less than 4 hours. According to James, the defendant tried her best to portray a sincere and kind countenance, but her somewhat threatening stare, on several occasions, gave away her true feelings.

Trial: Closing Statements

The defense attorney had the same message about the case: “No picture, no evidence, no crime. This woman was a loving woman who wants to be with her loving husband of 30+ years.” On the prosecuting side, the attorney mentioned how the EMT’s did see harm done, and she was very intoxicated which made her behave so irrationally. She could have been capable of anything.

Jury Verdict

Most of the jurors argued whether the violence was justified, but they were actually supposed to agree on whether the woman did or did not hit her husband. According to James, every single juror agreed that she hit her husband. The issue is that four of them were preoccupied with the justification of the act while James and another juror realized that that wasn’t important. Since the husband may have physically forced her to seek medical treatment, at some point, that somehow made him even more guilty of domestic violence. In the end, James and the other like-minded juror gave up their positions in order to go home.

After the Trial

James and I met up, again so we could have dinner at Bamboo Panda. It seems that the judge was interested in Chinese food, as well. The judge and James had a small conversation about what took place, and the judge would have liked for the defendant to have been found guilty. It seems that she is a recurring defendant at court—go figure. It’s ridiculous because the people of that town are basically paying for that woman’s performances, but since they are, perhaps they should at least go witness the drama if they can (You know, get a solid taste of the daytime “reality” TV crap many will watch, anyway).

Really, if one set of jurors would finally find her guilty then maybe she would learn some kind of lesson from the punishment she has never received. I guess what really bothered me is the reality that a jury trial will involve a variety of people with different personalities, certain prejudices or preconceived notions, and varying IQ’s—diversity seems great in a textbook but not so much in some real-life cases. I recall that the others who were jurors, during my own civic duty experience, were all relatively normal without any personality deficiencies or obvious dark past. One just never knows just how much this can affect the outcome—or recurring outcomes.

Note: I actually like snakeskin boots so I have nothing against that one attorney. Also, kudos to anyone who is genetically inclined to look like Clark Kent. And, no, I don’t read those racy paperbacks anymore, really. If you don’t already know, if you do complete jury duty, you will receive a cheesy certificate of appreciation with your name on it and a questionnaire based on your experience (you can explain how great or awful every aspect was).

 

 

 

 

 

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