This story is by John Allen Delivuk and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The Trial of the Lonely Juror
My Mother was on jury duty. She was late getting home, and I decided to go into the kitchen and raid the refrigerator for a snack. As soon as I got my head in the fridge, she walked in the back door. A glance showed me her outrage, and I asked, “What’s wrong, Mom?” She began her story of injustice.
The court case was a trial for indecent exposure. One morning, a man exposed himself to a woman on her way to work. When Joan arrived at work, her boss saw her distraught, and he urged her to share what happened. She told her story and identified the perpetrator. Her boss called the police, who arrested the man.
The man pleaded not guilty, so there was a trial.
After she was sworn in, Joan showed her nervousness. The prosecutor questioned her.
“What happen on the morning of April 17?”
“I walked to work and saw John Smith drop his pants and show his sex organs.”
“Do you see that man in this room?”
“Yes, he is sitting over there.”
The prosecutor nailed the identification down by saying, “Please note, she is pointing to the defendant.”
He continued, “How long have you known this man?’
“I have no further questions.”
The defense attorney argued the defendant was at work at Smith Steel during the time of the crime. He called the Smith company timekeeper as a witness and requested, “Mr. Jones, please state your occupation.”
“I am the timekeeper at Smith Steel. My job is to collect the time cards for employees and be sure they are paid for the time they work.”
The defense attorney continued, “Was the defendant at work on the morning of April 22?”
“According to the timecard, he was. I brought his timecard along as you requested.”
The attorney continued, “Your Honor, I want this timecard entered in evidence for this trial.”
The judge accepted it as evidence.
The prosecution then cross-examined the timekeeper, “Sir, did you see the defendant at work on the morning of April 22.”
“Do you know any person who saw the defendant at work that morning?”
“No, sir, I do not.”
“So the only evidence that shows the defendant was working is the timecard.”
The trial went to a jury of 12 men and women, including my Mother. They discussed the case, and several of them believed that the man was guilty. They evaluated the evidence of the timecard. One juror, who worked at a factory, said men would frequently punch another person’s timecard for someone who was not at work. He had even done it himself. The jury’s first vote resulted in nine voting innocent, and three voting guilty, including my Mother. The twelve discussed the case further. Several jurors believed the defendant committed the crime but voted innocent because they did not wish him to have a criminal record.
My Mother experienced prejudice growing up as the child of eastern European immigrants. It taught her to care about justice. She argued against acquittal, “You know the man is guilty, if we allow him to get away with this crime, we will be encouraged to do the same crime to another woman. He may even rape a woman. It is our responsibility to protect people.”
The jury voted a second time. The count was eleven to one with only my Mother voting for conviction. The discussion continued, and the other jurors put pressure on my Mother. The final straw came when a woman juror accused my Mother, saying, “You just want to hang up the jury so you can get a free dinner.” She eventually caved in to the pressure and voted for acquittal.
The jury verdict was announced to the judge, who showed surprise at the not guilty decision. My hurt and irate Mother went home to her caring family.
Somewhere else in Beaver County, Joan, a lonely, single woman, went home to her disappointments and fears. The accusation and the trial caused her a tremendous amount of stress. To what end? Would the perpetrator seek revenge on her? The worst blow came from her fellow citizens deserted her for a criminal. They showed mercy to the criminal, but not to the woman. They had no mercy on Joan. Instead, they made an innocent woman the victim of the jury.