The Jury Duty Experience PT 4

AN EXCITING UPDATE!!!

After spending a week plus on jury duty and then not getting a chance to hand over a verdict, I was really disappointed. A few times, I have gone onto the county website with a hope of finding out somehow what the verdict of the re-trial, if there was one.

Today, I decided to email the Prosecutor’s office and just see if I could find out. I was surprised to learn that my email was forwarded to the Prosecutor and she responded personally.

The Court set a new trial date the following week.  At its conclusion, the jury convicted both Defendants of Possession with Intent to Deliver Fentanyl… and Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine…  They convicted Defendant 1 additionally of Possession with Intent to Deliver Heroin…; Possession of Ammunition by a Felon; and Maintaining a Drug House.  They acquitted Defendant 1of Possession of Oxycodone and Possession of Marijuana.

Defendant 1 was sentenced to 18 years to 40 years in prison as a Habitual Third Felony Offender.

Defendant 2 was sentenced to 6 years to 20 years in prison.

Names were redacted**

I am so glad to hear that the next jury was able to come to the same conclusion that I think the majority of my fellow jurors would have come to. Justice seems to have been served!

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The Jury Duty Experience PT 3

I can’t believe I forgot to mention the closing arguments in PT 2.

The Prosecutor had a power point presentation and spent a lot of time on the definition of the various charges as well as reminding us what evidence proved those charges to be accurate. It seemed pretty open and shut to me. 

Unfortunately, Defendant #1’s attorney wasn’t done with his theatrics. He proceeded to pretend that he was the 2nd Defendant and act out the day. He pretend to be driving the car where some drugs were found. He pretended to get a message from one of the other 2 men found in the house. He pretended to run from the cops and to throw his pretend drugs around the room. Even his client covered his face and shook his head at the display. To me it just made me feel like the Defense wasn’t taking anything seriously. 

The second Defense Attorney made much less of a spectical. However he implied that in his so many years of working for both the Prosecutor and the Defense, he’d never been on trial with another Defendant that he was trying to prove to be the guilty party. He stated that they were helping along the Prosecutor. She disagreed. 

We were then given our rules and sent back to deliberate. 

Within a few moments, we elected the one juror as our foreman, and I was elected to take notes and polls on the white board. We ran through all 10 charges and took a quick vote just to see where we would agree. I think by the time we were released that day, we had come to unanimous decisions on 2 charges. 

Friday was more difficult. We were struggling with the definition of “Right to Control” which was one of the elements in the definition of Possession of a Controlled Substance. Every one kept bringing up scenarios and disagreeing on just about everything. You could tell a few of us had reached our exhausted points and it was just getting too loud and everyone was talking over one another. At the end of the day, I reminded the group that we were not speaking about random objects, like coats and wallets, but only Controlled Substances. We all agreed to let it go for the day. We would think about it over the weekend and come back to it Monday morning. No one wanted a hung jury, but I think a few of the jurors in the minority were starting to see it as an end result. 

Monday morning we were advised right away that we were not to deliberate until they told us to. So we sat having small talk and coffee. At some point, the clerk came down and got juror 7. She was the juror who works in the court house for a contract company. She had been one of the few in the minority who felt there was to much doubt for any of the charges of possession to be guilty. I was starting to wonder if they were going to replace her with the alternate. 

Soon they came for our foreman. And then surprisingly they came for juror 10. It was after she left, that I learned from another juror that 7 had asked an attorney either for the definition of right to control, or had asked if she was allowed to look it up. He told her no, and that either could result in a mistrial. 7 apparently told 10 when she got in that morning that her notes she had taken over the weekend shouldn’t be used. 

I still don’t know how exactly the courts found out. Soon we were all called into the court room and told by the judge that she was declaring it a mistrial. We were all pretty bummed but I think also relieved. She reminded us that should we ever end up on another jury, we needed to respect the court and only consider information that was presented during trial and told to us by the judge. 

Overall it was an interesting experience. I wouldn’t mind doing it again. At least now I would have a better expectation. I’m still slightly bummed our 6 days didn’t pan out into anything good. I’m hoping they will be retried and the next jury will be able to convict them. 

The Jury Duty Experience PT 2

Trial started immediately after the jury was sworn in. The Prosecutor’s opening statement was really well spoken and clearly explained what they felt had occurred on the date in question. They were going to present a number of witnesses, a pile of direct evidence, and she made it clear that they would be establishing circumstantial evidence to tie it all together. 

The Defense attorneys took turns with their opening statements. The both of them arguing that the other’s client were the guilty one and not theirs. I immediately felt like they were in cahoots to make it seem like both men couldn’t possibly be guilty because if one was truly guilty, the other couldn’t possibly be. Of course, illiciting doubt is their job. We were released for the day when they were done. 

First thing the next morning, we were back in the deliberation room, talking casually, enjoying the coffee and donuts, and secretly hoping the Defendants were taking a plea. No such luck. The day started with a detective serving as a witness. He had been the first to enter the house that day. He had witnessed the 2nd Defendant running from the dining room and entering the kitchen, where he found the first Defendant. After a few hours of back and forth questioning between the Prosecutor and Defense the released the witness and we were able to go to lunch. 

That afternoon was more interesting in my opinion. After briefly questioning a second cop who searched the vehicle, the next witness was a chemist from the crime lab who had tested the drugs found at the scene. Again, I was very impressed with the chemist who was also a very professional, well spoken woman with years of experience. She did not let the Defense trip her up the way that my least favorite Attorney was trying so desperately to do. I really wish that I had studied chemistry and gone into forensics like I had wanted to when I was younger. 

After that, the Lead Detective took the stand. Of course, it started with Mr. Defense Attorney arguing that the detective shouldn’t be declared an expert if he was also a witness. Which I found interesting given that he did not have a problem with the first detective or the chemist being declared experts. 

The Prosecutor continued making her way through piles of evidence. Photographs, clothing, kitchen equipment used to mix drugs, plastic bags from the trash, and drugs. There were bags of heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, and marijuana. While intriguing, the amount of money those bags were worth was sickening. And depressing, with the current epidemic of opioid related deaths. Interestingly enough, my (least) favorite Defense Attorney objected to the Prosecutor pointing out how dangerous fentanyl is, stating that “it wasn’t fair” which was laughably overruled as that was not a proper objection. 

Wednesday we got started after lunch. It was the Defenses turn to question the Lead Detective. While I believe that the officer handled the case professionally and under proper protocol, his lack in documentation of his surveillance, and later questioning of the defendants at the scene was disappointing. And that was it for the day. 

Thursday morning we we in for a surprise as the Prosecutor introduced phone calls made from Defendant 1 to Defendant 2 while in jail. They were recorded and were played for us to establish that one of the defendants was known on the street as “Snowman”. This was important to note as 2 people who were seen in the gallery of the court room were wearing t-shirts that read “Free” above a picture of a snowman. 

After lunch, we were given our instructions, and an alternate was selected at random and dismissed. We were released back to the deliberation room. 

The Jury Duty Experience PT 1

A few weeks ago I received a summons to report for jury duty from the Oakland County Circuit Court. I promptly filled out the questionnaire and then forgot about it. As a matter of fact, I pretty much forgot about it until they sent me a follow up letter because I hadn’t returned the questionnaire.

Leading up to my summons date, I had been pretty laid back about it. The last time I had been called was a really quick and painless experience where I was dismissed within an hour of arriving. Though as someone pointed out, there was a good chance that must have been a day later in the week. Monday’s tend to be a busier day for the courts. 

Last Monday, I arrived a few minutes early and was able to get a seat in the back of the large room that held the jury pool. I watched as the room filled with people. It wasn’t hard to notice that the majority of the people were white women. There were a few dozen white men. And even fewer people of color.

The first group of jurors were called by number and I watched them line up down the hall and be lead out of sight. Shortly after the intercom started calling out a second group of random numbers. Sure enough, about midway through, they called my number. We made our way up and had our badges scanned as we lined up in single file. A few of us took the opportunity to use the restroom knowing that it would be a while before we got the chance again. 

I learned that there were 45 of us total. And in the gallery of the court room, it looked like a much more diverse group. We took an oath, and the judge introduced the prosecution and defense teams as well as the defendants. She asked if we knew anyone, and I laughed to myself when the man seated next to me stated he was an optimalogist and he thought one of the defendants could be a patient. He was not dismissed. I didn’t have long to get comfortable on the wooden bench, as I was the fourth person called to the juror’s box. 

Voir Dire began. The Prosecutor was a professional, well spoken woman, who was very experienced. She was assisted by the lead detective on the case. She lead the questions at first, mainly wanting to know if we knew anyone involved in the legal system, what we did for a living, and if we had ever been a victim of a crime. 

We learned that the case was involving the two defendants who had been arrested at a home during the execution of a search warrant. Each of the men were charged multiple times in relation to the possession and intent to distribute various controlled substances. They each had their own Defense attorneys. 

Right from the start, I disliked one of the Defense lawyers. He was loud, animated, and very unprofessional. He acted too friendly with everyone. Even the Judge and Prosecutor gave each other looks of disapproval. I thought that I could be dismissed simply because I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. 

But I was not dismissed. At noon we took an hour lunch break. Upon returning, the selected jurors were dismissed and replaced one by one. Out of 45, minus our 13, only 11 people remained left in the gallery. People who were dismissed either knew someone affected by substance abuse, didn’t speak English as their first language, openly admitted that they were biased, or surprisingly, were engineers. 

When all was said and done, our jury consisted of 10 white women, 1 white man, and 2 black women. I am not sure that is what was meant when they said a jury of your peers. 

New and Improved!

Ta Da! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the newly designed Zombies & Robots: A Love Story.

As many of you have probably already figured out, back in January I moved from Blogger to WordPress. I even bought my own domain; zombiesandrobots.net.  It was a huge step in making myself more committed to writing. I have had a few “Oh dear god what have I done” moments, but introducing the new site to you has been an extremely satisfying and joyous occasion.

Above you will see my new banner designed for me by my dear friend Tig O’Hitties.  I contacted Tig after she began designing Facebook banners and other graphics for the Detroit Derby Girls Facebook page.  And I have to say, she was more than awesome to work with, and she handled my very silly sketches very well and was able to produce for me something straight out of my mind.

One thing that I have learned from Roller Derby is that if you ever need anything, someone in the league has it or does it, or knows some one that does.  Lawyers, doctors, (super awesome) graphic designers, chemical engineers, mediators, librarians, (extremely handsome) FedEx package handlers, heating and cooling specialists. Roller Derby has them all.

One of my favorite stories I tell people is about when Mike and I first bought our home. We needed to have A/C installed and a friend of ours gave us a name of someone that has always provided a good deal. We called and called and this chick never seemed to have the time for us. Then my friend mentions that she’s been laid up for a bit with a broken leg. How’d she break that leg? Derby. I use my smart phone to look up her contact info in Facebook, find out what team she plays for and strike up a conversation… One thing leads to the next and she’s got her guys out to our house the next week.  And I made a new friend.

For those of you interested in working with Tig O’Hitties on your own projects, you can email her at tracygabrys@gmail.com.  Although Tig has been working under her government name for a number of years, she has only recently began freelancing for roller derby leagues and friends. Educated at Detroit’s own College for Creative Studies, Tig has a keen understanding of what the customer wants, and is detail-focused. She comes highly recommend by myself and as one friend has stated “[That banner] is awesweet! … That is awesome & sweet together. Or, awesomely sweet.” (Thanks Doug!)

Keep checking back as I add new features to the blog.  And while you’re here, be sure to visit my other pages up top… Read my About Me, View my Instagram feed, check out Events I’ll be at, and wander off into the great unknown with links on my Items of Internet Interest.