Fuk Me! I am PISSE’D! Jury Duty, Texas Style Part Two–THE SYSTEM BROKE Down!

Part One Here.

After we had all settled in with our coffees and doughnuts graciously provided by Hunt County we began our deliberation by comparing notes from the previous day’s testimony. It didn’t take me long to figure out that not everyone had the same impressions of what had transpired. Therefore the first order of business was to pull everyone closer together on the ‘facts’ we could agree upon:

  1. The defendant, ‘Mr. Johnson’ was definitely at the scene at the time in question, approximately ten p.m.

  2. He gained entry into the trailer

  3. The girl, ‘Miss Shelton’ was in the trailer

  4. The defendant did take the shotgun

  5. The defendant was intoxicated when he was arrested

  6. All three of the principals knew each other

Miss Shelton’s testimony was that she had been asleep on the couch when Mr. Johnson kicked in the door and upon discovering her in the house grew violent, found the gun and proceeded to yell while pointing it at her and threatening to “Blow her f*#king head off!” if she didn’t stop screaming. She further testified that he began searching the living room looking for drugs all the while keeping the gun on her.

She said Johnson kept screaming, “Where’s the f*#king dope! Where’s the f*#king dope?” Then she said after a few minutes the owner of the trailer, ‘Mr. Rogers’ came in, shouted at Johnson and ran over to her, yelling at him to “get the f*#k out of my house!” The defendant grabbed the bottle of whiskey from his hand and ran out with the gun, got in his truck and sped away, slinging mud and gravel. Rogers called the police and approximately ten minutes later they arrived.

Johnson claimed that Rogers had given him permission to borrow the gun and to come by his house that night to pick it up. He said there was no altercation.

This was flatly denied by Rodgers. It had come out during testimony that the defendant had a record of violence, which we were supposed to ignore, as the objection from the defense was sustained.  It had also come out that the defendant had a back full of tattoos which displayed things like ‘cop killer’ and other unsavory images. The objection to this from the defense was also sustained, but not before Johnson had turned his back to the jury and pulled up his shirt. We were also supposed to ‘un-see’ the tattoos. Of course, I don’t think we were able to fully comply with either of these admonitions.

It had also been revealed that both the defendant and Rogers had been involved with drugs in the past.

It quickly became apparent that this was a simple case of ‘He said, She said, and He (Rogers) said’. So that is how we were to approach our deliberations. Who did we believe?

Rodgers had testified that he had been home with Miss Shelton up until approximately one hour before the alleged break in, but had gone out to purchase some whiskey before the stores closed (at nine p.m.) He ran into some buddies and stayed gone much longer than he had intended. He testified that when he finally did return sometime around ten p.m. he walked in on the defendant pointing the gun at Miss Shelton. He described her as visibly shaking and crying hysterically.

The defendant testified that when Rogers arrived he was walking out of the house with the gun he had been given permission to borrow crooked under his arm and that he had not threatened Miss Shelton or had even harsh words with her.

After the police questioned Miss Shelton and Rogers they went off in pursuit of the defendant and arrested him at eleven thirty-five. He had the shotgun in his possession and the bottle of Wild Turkey, which was about three-quarters full. He was taken to the Commerce City jail and booked on DUI.

The next day he was transferred to the Hunt County Jail and charged with the additional charges of assault and robbery.

We were shown photos of the trailer door, which did appear to have some damage, but we were also shown (by the defense) other photos of the general disrepair of the entire trailer. It was difficult to discern with certainty if the damage to the door was from someone kicking it in or just from general wear and tear and neglect.

These are the basics of the testimony.

Tomorrow I will get into the finer details and the heated deliberation.

Jury Duty, Texas Style, Part Three

Part Three Here

Juries are Stupid! Read The Atheist Part “Jury Duty, Texas Style: A Re-Post”

Several years ago (before I went to Iraq) I was called for Jury Selection.

jury-summons

My first thought was, “Damn it! I cannot afford this; I live paycheck to paycheck.” I was living in Commerce, Texas and though I had a decent and secure job, the pay just barely supported my lavish lifestyle: Beer, Cigarettes, a three DVD per week habit, computer games… Not to mention dog food, cat food and Lance food. Gasoline was not an issue: I had no car.

On the appointed day I dutifully showed up at the Hunt County Courthouse (in a borrowed car) along with about one hundred twenty thusly cursed potential selectees. They assembled us into a large room and passed out the questionnaires. It was quite noisy and seemed disorganized. I don’t recall any of the questions, save one:

“What is your religious affiliation”?

That was easy: I scribbled ‘atheist’, which was an honest answer and one certain, I surmised to exempt me, as Hunt County probably has more churches per capita than most counties in Texas.” Brilliant!

Imagine my disbelief (no pun), when I was selected.

The trial, as it turns out was for a felony charge of robbery and assault. I will summarize to the best of my recollection. The defendant was a young man, say, twenty something. The plaintiff, a young woman, also twenty something.

The alleged crime: The defendant (white male) broke into the trailer-house of a third party again twenty something, with the intent of stealing a shotgun and maybe a few beers. By the way, all the principles in this event were white and actually knew each other and were supposedly ‘friends’.

The defendant was unaware that the trailer was occupied by the young woman, who happened to be engaged to a fourth party, but claimed to just sleeping in the trailer, “because she had gotten too drunk to drive home.” The owner of the trailer was not home at this time.

Once discovered by the young woman, the defendant threatened her by leveling the shotgun and promising with utmost sincerity that he was about to “blow her fuckin’ head off.”

That’s the gist of the complaint.

The testimony took most of the day, and then we retired to our chambers. Hunt County Courthouse is not a new facility (1929).

The jury chambers were musty but reasonably well lit, due to the several large windows in the room. We were on the third floor of the courthouse and could see ‘freedom’ on the streets below. We seated ourselves around a wonderful solid oak conference table which reminded me of the dining room table my father had in his Victorian Era ‘Marcom Manor’. All that was missing was the fireplace and the crystal balls and the pewter figurines of demons and witches and dragons.

On the walls were old paintings of Texas pastoral country scenes, one requisite Texan Ranger on horseback with a Walker-Colt six-shooter in hand, and one poster showing “Justice is Blind” frayed at the edges and stuck to the wall with yellowed scotch tape, probably added some years after the paintings as an after thoughtful motivation, or reminder, or inspiration. Who knows?

First order of business was to select a foreperson. To my dismay I was elected through no fault of my own. I was trying to fly under the radar, and apparently had failed miserably. And after all that stealth training with the SEALs too! Shit.

We began the laborious debate on the testimony and evidence. Personally from the get go, I was leaning toward a guilty verdict, but not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ at this initial point. As I recall, our first ‘secret’ ballot, which I called for right off the bat, just to see where we were, reflected an equally divided jury. Clearly we had some work to do if we were to come to a unanimous decision. We spent what little was left of the rest of the afternoon kicking the testimony around and getting to know each other.

Seated just to my left was a white man, about my age sporting a crew cut and an out-spoken demeanor. By his words, it became immediately clear he had an education and was also of the mind no gray area existed here. The guy was guilty. “And what he needed was to find Jesus Christ.”

There was an elderly gentleman at the opposite end of the conference table who had a mild-mannered air, quite soft-spoken. He could go either way.

Much to my surprise a woman I had known years before, who was still married to a good friend, fellow Honey Grove native, and also a co-worker of mine from the Seventies was also there. Not sure which way she was leaning.

An elderly blue-haired lady sat next to her, and I could just tell, she did not feel the young man deserved prison. (The crime called for a minimum fifteen year sentence, as the defendant had a previous record. In Texas, I think it must be two strikes and yer out)

The rest rounded out our ‘Twelve Angry Men’ scenario.

At the end of the afternoon, and having taken one more secret ballot and having not come anywhere near to a unanimous decision we departed to return the next morning.

***

Jury Duty, Texas Style Part Two

Part Two

Read The Atheist Part “Jury Duty, Texas Style: A Re-Post”

Several years ago (before I went to Iraq) I was called for Jury Selection.

jury-summons

My first thought was, “Damn it! I cannot afford this; I live paycheck to paycheck.” I was living in Commerce, Texas and though I had a decent and secure job, the pay just barely supported my lavish lifestyle: Beer, Cigarettes, a three DVD per week habit, computer games… Not to mention dog food, cat food and Lance food. Gasoline was not an issue: I had no car.

On the appointed day I dutifully showed up at the Hunt County Courthouse (in a borrowed car) along with about one hundred twenty thusly cursed potential selectees. They assembled us into a large room and passed out the questionnaires. It was quite noisy and seemed disorganized. I don’t recall any of the questions, save one:

“What is your religious affiliation”?

That was easy: I scribbled ‘atheist’, which was an honest answer and one certain, I surmised to exempt me, as Hunt County probably has more churches per capita than most counties in Texas.” Brilliant!

Imagine my disbelief (no pun), when I was selected.

The trial, as it turns out was for a felony charge of robbery and assault. I will summarize to the best of my recollection. The defendant was a young man, say, twenty something. The plaintiff, a young woman, also twenty something.

The alleged crime: The defendant (white male) broke into the trailer-house of a third party again twenty something, with the intent of stealing a shotgun and maybe a few beers. By the way, all the principles in this event were white and actually knew each other and were supposedly ‘friends’.

The defendant was unaware that the trailer was occupied by the young woman, who happened to be engaged to a fourth party, but claimed to just sleeping in the trailer, “because she had gotten too drunk to drive home.” The owner of the trailer was not home at this time.

Once discovered by the young woman, the defendant threatened her by leveling the shotgun and promising with utmost sincerity that he was about to “blow her fuckin’ head off.”

That’s the gist of the complaint.

The testimony took most of the day, and then we retired to our chambers. Hunt County Courthouse is not a new facility (1929).

The jury chambers were musty but reasonably well lit, due to the several large windows in the room. We were on the third floor of the courthouse and could see ‘freedom’ on the streets below. We seated ourselves around a wonderful solid oak conference table which reminded me of the dining room table my father had in his Victorian Era ‘Marcom Manor’. All that was missing was the fireplace and the crystal balls and the pewter figurines of demons and witches and dragons.

On the walls were old paintings of Texas pastoral country scenes, one requisite Texan Ranger on horseback with a Walker-Colt six-shooter in hand, and one poster showing “Justice is Blind” frayed at the edges and stuck to the wall with yellowed scotch tape, probably added some years after the paintings as an after thoughtful motivation, or reminder, or inspiration. Who knows?

First order of business was to select a foreperson. To my dismay I was elected through no fault of my own. I was trying to fly under the radar, and apparently had failed miserably. And after all that stealth training with the SEALs too! Shit.

We began the laborious debate on the testimony and evidence. Personally from the get go, I was leaning toward a guilty verdict, but not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ at this initial point. As I recall, our first ‘secret’ ballot, which I called for right off the bat, just to see where we were, reflected an equally divided jury. Clearly we had some work to do if we were to come to a unanimous decision. We spent what little was left of the rest of the afternoon kicking the testimony around and getting to know each other.

Seated just to my left was a white man, about my age sporting a crew cut and an out-spoken demeanor. By his words, it became immediately clear he had an education and was also of the mind no gray area existed here. The guy was guilty. “And what he needed was to find Jesus Christ.”

There was an elderly gentleman at the opposite end of the conference table who had a mild-mannered air, quite soft-spoken. He could go either way.

Much to my surprise a woman I had known years before, who was still married to a good friend, fellow Honey Grove native, and also a co-worker of mine from the Seventies was also there. Not sure which way she was leaning.

An elderly blue-haired lady sat next to her, and I could just tell, she did not feel the young man deserved prison. (The crime called for a minimum fifteen year sentence, as the defendant had a previous record. In Texas, I think it must be two strikes and yer out)

The rest rounded out our ‘Twelve Angry Men’ scenario.

At the end of the afternoon, and having taken one more secret ballot and having not come anywhere near to a unanimous decision we departed to return the next morning.

***

Jury Duty, Texas Style Part Two

Part Two

Jury Duty, Texas Style: A Re-Post

Several years ago (before I went to Iraq) I was called for Jury Selection.

jury-summons

My first thought was, “Damn it! I cannot afford this; I live paycheck to paycheck.” I was living in Commerce, Texas and though I had a decent and secure job, the pay just barely supported my lavish lifestyle: Beer, Cigarettes, a three DVD per week habit, computer games… Not to mention dog food, cat food and Lance food. Gasoline was not an issue: I had no car.

On the appointed day I dutifully showed up at the Hunt County Courthouse (in a borrowed car) along with about one hundred twenty thusly cursed potential selectees. They assembled us into a large room and passed out the questionnaires. It was quite noisy and seemed disorganized. I don’t recall any of the questions, save one:

“What is your religious affiliation”?

That was easy: I scribbled ‘atheist’, which was an honest answer and one certain, I surmised to exempt me, as Hunt County probably has more churches per capita than most counties in Texas.” Brilliant!

Imagine my disbelief (no pun), when I was selected.

The trial, as it turns out was for a felony charge of robbery and assault. I will summarize to the best of my recollection. The defendant was a young man, say, twenty something. The plaintiff, a young woman, also twenty something.

The alleged crime: The defendant (white male) broke into the trailer-house of a third party again twenty something, with the intent of stealing a shotgun and maybe a few beers. By the way, all the principles in this event were white and actually knew each other and were supposedly ‘friends’.

The defendant was unaware that the trailer was occupied by the young woman, who happened to be engaged to a fourth party, but claimed to just sleeping in the trailer, “because she had gotten too drunk to drive home.” The owner of the trailer was not home at this time.

Once discovered by the young woman, the defendant threatened her by leveling the shotgun and promising with utmost sincerity that he was about to “blow her fuckin’ head off.”

That’s the gist of the complaint.

The testimony took most of the day, and then we retired to our chambers. Hunt County Courthouse is not a new facility (1929).

The jury chambers were musty but reasonably well lit, due to the several large windows in the room. We were on the third floor of the courthouse and could see ‘freedom’ on the streets below. We seated ourselves around a wonderful solid oak conference table which reminded me of the dining room table my father had in his Victorian Era ‘Marcom Manor’. All that was missing was the fireplace and the crystal balls and the pewter figurines of demons and witches and dragons.

On the walls were old paintings of Texas pastoral country scenes, one requisite Texan Ranger on horseback with a Walker-Colt six-shooter in hand, and one poster showing “Justice is Blind” frayed at the edges and stuck to the wall with yellowed scotch tape, probably added some years after the paintings as an after thoughtful motivation, or reminder, or inspiration. Who knows?

First order of business was to select a foreperson. To my dismay I was elected through no fault of my own. I was trying to fly under the radar, and apparently had failed miserably. And after all that stealth training with the SEALs too! Shit.

We began the laborious debate on the testimony and evidence. Personally from the get go, I was leaning toward a guilty verdict, but not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ at this initial point. As I recall, our first ‘secret’ ballot, which I called for right off the bat, just to see where we were, reflected an equally divided jury. Clearly we had some work to do if we were to come to a unanimous decision. We spent what little was left of the rest of the afternoon kicking the testimony around and getting to know each other.

Seated just to my left was a white man, about my age sporting a crew cut and an out-spoken demeanor. By his words, it became immediately clear he had an education and was also of the mind no gray area existed here. The guy was guilty. “And what he needed was to find Jesus Christ.”

There was an elderly gentleman at the opposite end of the conference table who had a mild-mannered air, quite soft-spoken. He could go either way.

Much to my surprise a woman I had known years before, who was still married to a good friend, fellow Honey Grove native, and also a co-worker of mine from the Seventies was also there. Not sure which way she was leaning.

An elderly blue-haired lady sat next to her, and I could just tell, she did not feel the young man deserved prison. (The crime called for a minimum fifteen year sentence, as the defendant had a previous record. In Texas, I think it must be two strikes and yer out)

The rest rounded out our ‘Twelve Angry Men’ scenario.

At the end of the afternoon, and having taken one more secret ballot and having not come anywhere near to a unanimous decision we departed to return the next morning.

***

Jury Duty, Texas Style Part Two

Part Two

Jury Duty, Texas Style Part Two

Part One Here.

After we had all settled in with our coffees and doughnuts graciously provided by Hunt County we began our deliberation by comparing notes from the previous day’s testimony. It didn’t take me long to figure out that not everyone had the same impressions of what had transpired. Therefore the first order of business was to pull everyone closer together on the ‘facts’ we could agree upon:

  1. The defendant, ‘Mr. Johnson’ was definitely at the scene at the time in question, approximately ten p.m.

  2. He gained entry into the trailer

  3. The girl, ‘Miss Shelton’ was in the trailer

  4. The defendant did take the shotgun

  5. The defendant was intoxicated when he was arrested

  6. All three of the principals knew each other

Miss Shelton’s testimony was that she had been asleep on the couch when Mr. Johnson kicked in the door and upon discovering her in the house grew violent, found the gun and proceeded to yell while pointing it at her and threatening to “Blow her f*#king head off!” if she didn’t stop screaming. She further testified that he began searching the living room looking for drugs all the while keeping the gun on her.

She said Johnson kept screaming, “Where’s the f*#king dope! Where’s the f*#king dope?” Then she said after a few minutes the owner of the trailer, ‘Mr. Rogers’ came in, shouted at Johnson and ran over to her, yelling at him to “get the f*#k out of my house!” The defendant grabbed the bottle of whiskey from his hand and ran out with the gun, got in his truck and sped away, slinging mud and gravel. Rogers called the police and approximately ten minutes later they arrived.

Johnson claimed that Rogers had given him permission to borrow the gun and to come by his house that night to pick it up. He said there was no altercation.

This was flatly denied by Rodgers. It had come out during testimony that the defendant had a record of violence, which we were supposed to ignore, as the objection from the defense was sustained.  It had also come out that the defendant had a back full of tattoos which displayed things like ‘cop killer’ and other unsavory images. The objection to this from the defense was also sustained, but not before Johnson had turned his back to the jury and pulled up his shirt. We were also supposed to ‘un-see’ the tattoos. Of course, I don’t think we were able to fully comply with either of these admonitions.

It had also been revealed that both the defendant and Rogers had been involved with drugs in the past.

It quickly became apparent that this was a simple case of ‘He said, She said, and He (Rogers) said’. So that is how we were to approach our deliberations. Who did we believe?

Rodgers had testified that he had been home with Miss Shelton up until approximately one hour before the alleged break in, but had gone out to purchase some whiskey before the stores closed (at nine p.m.) He ran into some buddies and stayed gone much longer than he had intended. He testified that when he finally did return sometime around ten p.m. he walked in on the defendant pointing the gun at Miss Shelton. He described her as visibly shaking and crying hysterically.

The defendant testified that when Rogers arrived he was walking out of the house with the gun he had been given permission to borrow crooked under his arm and that he had not threatened Miss Shelton or had even harsh words with her.

After the police questioned Miss Shelton and Rogers they went off in pursuit of the defendant and arrested him at eleven thirty-five. He had the shotgun in his possession and the bottle of Wild Turkey, which was about three-quarters full. He was taken to the Commerce City jail and booked on DUI.

The next day he was transferred to the Hunt County Jail and charged with the additional charges of assault and robbery.

We were shown photos of the trailer door, which did appear to have some damage, but we were also shown (by the defense) other photos of the general disrepair of the entire trailer. It was difficult to discern with certainty if the damage to the door was from someone kicking it in or just from general wear and tear and neglect.

These are the basics of the testimony.

Tomorrow I will get into the finer details and the heated deliberation.

Jury Duty, Texas Style, Part Three

Part Three Here

Jury Duty, Texas Style

Several years ago (before I went to Iraq) I was called for Jury Selection.

jury-summons

My first thought was, “Damn it! I cannot afford this; I live paycheck to paycheck.” I was living in Commerce, Texas and though I had a decent and secure job, the pay did not support my lavish lifestyle: Beer, Cigarettes, a three DVD per week habit, computer games… Not to mention dog food, cat food and Lance food. Gasoline was not an issue: I had no car.

On the appointed day I dutifully showed up at the Hunt County Courthouse (in a borrowed car) along with about one hundred twenty thusly cursed potential selectees. They assembled us into a large room and passed out the questionnaires. It was quite noisy and seemed disorganized. I don’t recall any of the questions, save one:

“What is your religious affiliation”?

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