Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jury Tales

We could be done on Monday, the judge said on Friday. We could be deliberating by Tuesday. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to tell you the whole story on Wednesday. If I live that long. The secrecy is killing me, as I have mentioned before.

But I can tell you some stuff. At one point on Friday, in the privacy of the jury room, one of the jurors said, "Well, all that's left now is deciding how much."

I looked at her in disbelief. "Lalalalalalala!" I singsonged, holding my fingers in my ears. "You cannot talk that way, Juror L," I said, "You have to wait until ALL the evidence is in and we've heard from ALL the witnesses."

"How come?" she said, crunching down on a malted milk ball. "It's clear to me who's at fault."

"You don't know that," chimed in my buddy, Juror F. "What if they show us a suicide letter?"

"There's a suicide letter?!" she screamed.

"No, no, no!" we said in unison, and then JF continued, "but you don't know what else they might tell us or show us. You have to wait to make up your mind!"

JF and I both want to be the jury foreman, and he is positioning himself quite well for the job. He is young, smart, and determined, but also sweet, funny and friendly. He's had a tough life, and yet somehow, he has envisioned a future for himself that is quite different from the one his circumstances might have predicted. I have no doubt that he will get there; and along the way he might write a best-selling memoir that I will buy and ask him to autograph.

"'Jury Foreman' would look good on my resume," said JF optimistically.

"Sweetie, a hiring manager would not care," I refrained from saying.

"You'll get my vote," said Juror L.

"What?!" I objected. "What about me? Why won't I get your vote!"

"You'll get my vote, too!" she said, proving herself to be a true Chicagoan.

The rest of the jury has not indicated any interest in being foreman. They might be too polite, or maybe they really don't care for the job. Or maybe they are biding their time, waiting for the right moment to present their credentials.

We spend our time in the jury room trying--but not succeeding--to NOT talk about the case. When Deputy D. pokes her head in, she looks around suspiciously. "You're not talking about the case, are you?" she says.

"Oh, no," we all say, "We're just talking about the lawyers." We have fond names for them. The lead counsel for the defense has a very pink face and pure white hair. Juror B nicknamed him "Oompah-Loompah," although I don't think the colors are exactly right, and he's not short.

Juror J., or possibly Juror K., suggested, extremely charitably, that the lead counsel for the plaintiff looked a bit like George Clooney, so that's what we call him. He would be very flattered, I'm sure. He's good looking, but not THAT good looking. I could see him being played by Greg Kinnear or Craig Bierko, except Bierko is too tall.

He's fierce in the courtroom, for sure; and I would certainly put him on my short list if I needed a personal injury attorney. I think the plaintiff, the widow, has a little crush on him.

One more thing: I tell Mr. Peevie things about the case, but I'm very careful not to give away any details that might let him know what case it is. (Even if I did, he wouldn't pursue it. He has too much integrity and character to do so. He is packed with all sorts of annoying ethics.) But the other night, as we were talking, I almost--ALMOST--let the name of [large company] slip out. In fact, I did let the first syllable slip out. Twice. Oops.

But here's what I think: a likely scenario is that the defendant originally tried to settle the case with the plaintiff, but the plaintiff (and/or her lawyers) were not willing to settle for the amount the defendant offered. Perhaps the defendants knew they did not have a strong enough case to actually WIN the lawsuit, but they are taking a chance that the jury will award less money than what the plaintiff's lawyers are holding out for.

Hmmm. We shall see. Maybe Monday's testimony will turn things on its head, and render these speculations sheer idiocy.

I can't wait to find out.

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