Saturday, August 27, 2011
Do you swear to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth?
I served on jury duty for two days this week. It was my third summons for duty. (I think a jury duty summons is like hemorroids or cold sores, once you get them you are prone to get them.) I knew i was going to be chosen from the panel of 25 people, because it seemed obvious some were trying to get out of it by their answers.
This was a DUI and hit and run case.
For example: one guy answered a question with saying his very best friend got a DUI and he hasn't spoken to him since and that the defendant shouldn't be comfortable with having him on the jury. Maybe that's true too. But i felt he wanted out. Another woman, a nurse, kept interrupting and talking and sounded a little bit wack actually.
The jist: A young woman left a bar at 2 am. This bar is notorious in town. There was a gang related still unsolved murder a few years ago. (My husband worked with the father of the kid who was killed and we went to the funeral.) As a result of that reputation, the bar hires Lakewood Police officers as 'rent a cops'.
The woman drives out of the parking lot. She actually sees that he is parked there, and as she drives out, her rear view mirror scratches the side of the officer's car. Very minor. But he feels it, but she is unaware that she grazed him. She pulls out into the street. The copy puts on his lights and follows her and she pulls over immediately. (To this police officer, this constitutes as hit and run. She is so close to the bar that you could throw a heavy rock and hit it.)
He, by his own testimony, came on strong with her, that he was 'agitated'. He approached her and was yelling at her about 'what the hell was she doing?' etc. etc. and ordered her out of the car . She swears she didn't know that she clipped him. (Her music was loud.)
The cop calls for backup from a state patrol officer. This guy is nicer and comes and gives her the field sobriety test (FST) even though he testifies that she does not appear to be drunk or swaggering. She walks a complete straight line, but fails to do it to instruction of heel/toe. This nice cop testifies that the defendant is totally cooperative. He does say she smells like alcohol. She admits to having one vodka/Coke in the bar about an hour and half before. She has been there since 8:30 for her cousin's birthday party and now it's 2:00 am. He thinks her eyes are wiggling when he does the test with the pen, but also admits under cross examination there are 40 other variables that could cause this, not related to drinking. (Strobe lights and being tired for one thing.)
The defendant is a young African American woman. The first mean officer looks like a Nazi kind of cop - he was intimidating on the stand and seemed pissed off about being in court and even admitted that he was 'agitated' that he had to be there. He never once looked at the jury when he spoke. In a word, the guy was an asshole. (Later the defendant told us that he wouldn't let her get her coat, yet it was near freezing outside.) I had to wonder about his attitude after what happened when four of his colleagues were killed in a coffee shop here two years ago here by a black man and his family helped him escape. Not saying he was racist, but i could see how SHE could be scared into believing so and so nervous she cannot pass the FST perfectly.
to be continued....