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Monday, December 26, 2011

Civic Duty and Justice

Back in June I got that sometimes dreaded letter from the Superior Court that I was being summoned for DUN DUN DUN!!!! Jury Duty! I was scheduled for mid August but that was a bad time because my son was graduating from Army Basic training, so I postponed my service. They gave me a new date and I promptly got the dates mixed up and on the day I was suppose to show up I remembered about halfway through the day. So I quickly called and got a NEW date to show up, October 3rd. Of coarse this was also a bad time, because my Walker Hound was expecting to deliver her puppies that week. Great. Can't postpone again. I was stuck this time.
I arrived at the courthouse and checked in, went through the whole waiting process. Finally got sent to a courtroom. Waited in the hallway with all the other "thrilled-to-be theres" until they started calling us into the courtroom. As I walked in and was directed to sit in the jury box, I noticed the Attorneys and the Defendant watching as we entered. I couldn't help but look at the defendant as I took my seat. My internal warning bell was going off for some reason. I silently questioned myself, did I know him somehow? I couldn't place his face, but there was just something that was giving me the heebie jeebies about him. I tried to ignore it. I had a lot of experience with jury duty and I know we are suppose to be impartial until we hear all the facts of the case. The judge wasn't even in the room yet so we had not been told anything. It was just pure creepiness.
After everyone was seated and accounted for, we rose for the Judge and sat down again. The baliff started bringing forward a box with papers in it. I knew what it was, again, my previous experience. Questionnaires. Great. Only really icky and long trials pass out questionnaires.
The Judge began to explain that we were to take the questionnaires and take 20 minutes to fill them out in the hallway. He then informed us what the case was about. The defendant was accused of Felony Animal Cruelty among other things. I had to bite my lip. Holy hoppin toads! I suddenly knew exactly who the defendant was. It was one of our cases!
Now, I hadn't worked this case, and had never seen or spoken to the defendant. But I knew very intimate details about the case. I knew the "victim". And of coarse I knew the Officers involved. Namely my supervisor. I could hear the groans and gasps around me as the nature of the crime was sinking in to the jurors around me. This was an easy out for me. But most of these folks wouldn't be so lucky, and this was one jury I wouldn't wish on anyone. I raised my hand before be were excused to the hallway. The Judge called on me and I told him my name and that I was an ACO for the county. He looked over my jury form. He asked me if I had knowledge of the case. Yes. Do I know Officer 453? Yes, he is my direct Supervisor. The judge nodded and thanked me for letting him know. I was instructed to speak to no one, especially at work about this case. I was told to turn in my questionnaire and return to the jurors waiting room, I was excused from this jury. He then also excused the rest of the jury pool to go out to the hallway to fill out their questionnaires. I could feel eyes on me, knowing they were thinking what a lucky break I got. I could hear a few people murmuring about how there was no way they could be on this jury. I thought I even hear someone crying. I got on the elevator and headed back down to the juror's room to be reassigned. I knew it was going to take them a long time to actually get a jury on this trial.
We were released to go to lunch. I was bursting to tell someone about what happened, but I knew I couldn't. I did text my dispatcher and told her only that I was excused from my first courtroom because of my status as an ACO. She's a smart cookie and knew exactly what case it was. I didn't violate any order. Didn't tell her anything. But I did tell her that this was going to be blogged for sure!
So the rest of my day went along boring as usual for Jury Duty. I got sent to another courtroom, sat in the box. Then we were instructed that we needed to return tomorrow to this courtroom for jury selection. Blah. That meant another day of jury duty, and on my day off!
The next day I showed up as ordered. I was feeling a little apprehensive though. Milly, my Walker hound had been acting weirder than her normal weird all morning. I had a feeling that this was her day. I texted my son because he would be the first one home and asked him to stay home until I got there just in case. I check with him at lunch time and he was home, nothing happening. But as soon as we had a break, I turned on my phone out in the hallway and the text message blew up.
"SON: On Ashley's Bed!!"
Crap. I called him. Asked him if he could move her out to the kennel room. No, she keeps growling at me. Ok leave her alone. I'll deal with it when I get home. How many? Two..oh wait Three! Gross, I think I'm gonna be sick!!" Yes, this is my 18 year old Army trained son. And this is why it always makes me laugh when people say they want their pet to have a litter so their children can witness the miracle of birth. Bull. First of all dogs and cats don't like to have an audience, they have a knack for picking the worst possible times to give birth, and it is gross.
So now I really don't want to be here. We went back in the courtroom and I was fidgety. The judge in this courtroom was sooooo sloooow. He did finally go around the jury and ask if there was any reason anyone could not stay focused on the case being presented. I raised my hand like a few other people. When he got to me he asked me why. I told him my dog was having puppies. He actually laughed. He asked, "right now?" I answered, " As we speak!" He moved on to a couple more people. I was eventually and shortly thereafter, thanked and excused by the Defense Attorney. The judge also thanked me for my service and wished me well with my puppies. I got all checked out and hurried home.
Milly had five very healthy puppies, 3 boys and 2 girls. And thankfully my daughter had actually made her bed that day, a rare occurrence. I only had to wash her comforter, her sheets and her mattress pad. The mattress itself was unscathed.
Now I bet your wondering about that first trial. It's finally over. That creepy degenerate was convicted of Felony Animal Cruelty. And because he is a habitual meth user AND a Parolee and just a scumbag in general he got a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison!!! That was even more than we were hoping for. And he is ordered to Register as a Sex offender!  It may represent the first time that "Jessica's Law" has been applied in a case involving sexual abuse of an animal. I will save you all the gory details as I'm sure you can already imagine how heinous this case was. I will tell you that the dog is alive, recovering. I won't say he's fine as this was a truly traumatic event for this little guy. And he does show some behavioral issue because of it, and a fear of men. But at least there is some Justice for one little dog.

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