When the summons for Jury Duty arrived in my mailbox, my first thought was “Why me?” I know I’m retired, but I wasn’t excited about getting up at the crack of dawn to sit in a room waiting for a trial. Then, I realized this was an opportunity.
My second book (not yet published but I’m hopeful) sends one of my characters to trial, so what better way to make that scene authentic than to experience a trial from the inside. I was actually excited when I became juror #11 and was on my way to deciding the fate of the accused. All I can say is, be careful what you wish for. Did I really want to be on a trial where the defendant was accused of child abuse?
Fortunately, my position in the jury box was not set in stone. The attorneys had a few questions and while I passed the first question regarding my previous jury experience on a domestic abuse case, I did not answer the next question to the satisfaction of the judge or one of the attorneys. The truth is, I don’t believe in spanking a child, much less using belts or wooden spoons and it was sickening to hear potential jurors endorse these forms of punishment. Sadly, those jurors were not excused, but I think I know why the prosecutor let them stay. I’m guessing the abuse in this case went far beyond a belt or a wooden spoon.
I was in the courtroom long enough to hear the list of witnesses—doctors, nurses and social workers at Children’s Hospital. Perhaps they were there to tell us the thirteen-year-old girl had nothing more than a scratch, but my gut told me this was not the case. Regardless of the reason for their presence on the witness list, the fact that the trial was expected to last five to seven days, told me this was a pretty severe case of abuse. But, because of my views on physical punishment of a child, I was excused, and I will never know the outcome of this trial.
I left with tears in my eyes. I only hope some of those jurors will be an advocate for the little girl. I understand that as a parent, you need to discipline your child, but what can a child possibly learn by being hit? Maybe they will not repeat their behavior out of fear, but maybe they will just learn that it is okay to hit someone who behaves badly or disagrees with you.
Listening to jurors say, “spare the rod and you spoil the child”, made me sick. I gave my kid ‘time outs’ as a small child and took away privileges as a teenager. She might be a tad bit spoiled, but at least she is not traumatized by the fear of getting hit. No child deserves physical harm to learn a lesson.
And speaking of lessons, I know I learned mine. Be careful what you wish for.
P.S. I also learned how to make the courtroom scene in my next book believable. It’s a sequel to my first novel, The Price of Secrets, which you can find on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Check it out so you’ll be ready for book two.