Lionel J. Friedman May 1921 - November 2010
Does anyone know the attorneys or parties in this case, intones the judge. I see the hand rise as the clipped, precise voice calls out “Yes!” 1,800,000 million people live in King County in the early 2000s. And there sitting in the box with his bow tie, is Mr. Friedman. Father of one of my best friends since Kindergarten.
Thank you says the judge and moves to the next general question.
I can see the defense attorney sizing up Mr. Friedman and scribbling a note. He’ll drill him later. I laugh inside. Seeing Mr. Friedman brings back so many memories. Mainly of running around in a house built into the side of a hill, the earthy color of the Pacific Northwest. Lake Forest Park is the name of our small city on the northern fringe of Seattle. By Lake Washington. Carved out of the Forest. Adjacent to the “Nike Site” – our Park. Downstairs we play with the Ouija board and scare ourselves senseless during sleepovers. There is a gigantic cage – half the size of that room. It is filled with critters that in my mind are chipmunks or squirrels. Little dogs have the run of the household. I step into squishy yucky stuff occasionally in the mornings. Liz (now a veterinarian – it was preordained), saying – here try this new people cookie. Me eating it and spitting it out as she laughs because it is a doggie treat.
Has anyone had a particularly good or bad experience with a lawyer, continues the judge. One person has a bad experience. Mr. Friedman raises his hand. “Oh, I had a great experience with my attorney” he announces jauntily twinkling at me.
Mr. Friedman is adorable. He is a retired English Professor at the U of W. His utterances are perfectly enunciated. His expressions perfectly formed.
The defense lawyer is trying to figure out how to get him off of the jury before he wins everyone over. Can you be fair and unbiased given that you know the plaintiff’s attorney, he says challengingly.
Why of course, says Mr. Friedman. And he launches into a charming explanation of how that will be possible, while the defense lawyer stews.
Eventually we take a break. Before the jury returns, the court calls Mr. Friedman in separately. This will allow the defense to pick on him even more. If he can’t withstand the picking, the judge will dismiss him “for cause.” But he withstands it without breaking a sweat.
The entire jury panel comes back in. The rest of the questions are asked and answered. The attorneys can now exercise “peremptory challenges.” This means, for no reason. We each get three of these.
The defense immediately boots Mr. Friedman off the jury.
Well, it was to be expected. He good naturedly gathers his things and waves goodbye. And we all are thinking – geez, he would have been a great and fun juror.
This weekend, Mr. Friedman will be honored with a celebration of his life by his loving family. Rest in Peace Mr. Friedman.