The angry juror: a trial diary story

Photo:  My law partner Keith Kessler and I pretend-angrily squaring off before a boat race at a WSTLA (now WSAJ) convention - the year before I joined the firm.

Photo:  My law partner Keith Kessler and I pretend-angrily squaring off before a boat race at a WSTLA (now WSAJ) convention - the year before I joined the firm.

 This excerpt is from a 2012 trial.

Trial day 2

Arrive early to get everything set up for opening.  The Prolumina (tech) guy is there to run everything for Nick the defense lawyer.  He is playing with our big tv.  We are chit chatting and my computer won’t boot up. Are you kidding me.  Hard start it.  Nothing.  Not panicked at all.  Which sounds ridiculous.  Should be hyperventillating.

But it isn’t even 8:30.  No one has arrived except the two of us.  And I’ve never had a computer fail doing an opening in trial.  Which is a dumb thing to say because this could be the first time.

Prolumina guy comes and fiddles around trying to help.  Nothing.  But then everything pops up all on its own.  Sheesh. I then connect the laptop to the tv via a local network linking me to an apple tv device that wirelessly connects me to the tv.  With a little help from G my co-counsel.

Now you’re probably wondering if I am trying to get into a Zen space. Channeling energy. Reviewing a speech in my head.  Taking one last look at the 80 slides in the powerpoint. Saying prayers.   Do I have anxiety.  Am I scared, nervous, excited.

Here’s the truth.  I am serenely peaceful.  I do no further preparation.  I am in the zone where I need to be.

Am chit chatting with Michelle the clerk who says – can you believe that juror (from yesterday).

Now, I haven’t told you about her yet.  It just seemed like such bad luck to do so.  Remember, many jurors were upset they weren’t relieved of duty due to the length of the trial.   Well, after the jury was sworn in and left the courtroom, we could hear one of them shouting at Rhonda, the court staff who acts as the bailiff.

I didn’t dare ask what went down.  But Michelle now tells me that Rhonda said it was one of the worst altercations she’s ever had with a juror.  Rhonda strolls in a while later and tells me that the juror got right up in her face and it was all she could do to calm her down.

We are all going about our business.  Clerk Michelle announces a little after 9, that we are missing one juror.  Guess which one.  We are all taking bets as to whether she will show.  We all guess no.  We are wrong.  She not only shows, but she takes a seat by herself in the courtroom gallery. The better to glare at us.

As soon as Michelle sees her, she hustles her back to the jury room.

All rise.  Judge Wulle enters.  Says – that juror wants to come in and talk to you.   All of us look at each other.  We don’t want to talk to her.   I ask that she be dismissed and an alternate seated.  Nick opposes.  He wants that angry juror to stay to ruin the case.  The court states his concern that she is not only rude and attacking towards his staff, but she is bringing down the rest of the jury and making things miserable back there.  Bill the other defense lawyer says he’s fine with her leaving.  Nick has to be talked around.  He warns that if we lose more jurors then we could be in trouble due to the length of the trial.  It is a gamble we have to take.

The judge leaves to give the angry juror the news.  We wish him luck.  He marches out of the courtroom with great gusto.  Comes back in.  Tells us he informed her she was being kicked off and that she a poor example of what it means to be a citizen.  We cheer him.

She slams out of there.  The whole courtroom breathes a sigh of relief.

Time for opening.  And I let it flow.

All the way up to slide number 75.  An imbedded video clip that somehow has been corrupted.  This doesn’t really bother me at all.  Again – strange right.  Should be having a holy cow.  Have been going for an hour and a quarter.  So we take a 5 minute break which works perfectly.   Fix the problem in under a minute.

Tummy has been rumbling since didn’t eat typical delicious breakfast.  Go into foyer, pull out Cherry pop tart and have at it.

Break ends.  Finish opening.