Opening Statements

Opening Statements

I returned early from lunch, but with a half hour to burn, I wandered back toward the court room.

I was, it turned out, one of the last of the perspective jurors to return to the hall outside our courtroom.

I was initially surprised to find the defendant sitting in the corner closest to the Courtroom. For a brief moment, we made eye contact and in that instant I learned as much about the personality of Gabriel Jackson, as I would throughout the rest of the day. Like the jurors, he was bored. I sensed an understandable degree of worry, but in many respects he was resigned to the outcome of the day. He was a spectator to the outcome of his future. We nodded to each other in greeting and then we turned away and that was all.
With plenty of time and no seats left, I settled against a wall and resumed my study of Tad R Callister’s work, with the little available time.

The court was assembled (late, as the Judge had another deposition to attend which ran late) and the court deputies asked us to find a seat. We were not reassembled into any order, to my surprise.

Once everyone was settled, the Judge thanked us for our assistance, and informed us that the jurors who were to be chosen were to be called by our Jury number.

I was shocked to be called, but in retrospect, I understand the reasoning for the two lawyers to wish my presence on the jury1. In total, six of us were called, and as we were called we were seated in the jury booth. 1- For the Prosecutor, I proved that I was willing to address and counter the Defense, as well as having been a crime victim. I could be sympathetic to the case of the Defense. The Defense desired me because of my understanding of firearms.

A quick recess was called, (one of the juror’s needed a restroom break) and we were led for the first time to the vaunted jury room.

It was a square room, with a squared table, with chairs encircling it. To the left on the wall was a whiteboard and a table with the markers, (buried behind a coffee machine and other assorted materials.) To the right were a pair of restrooms and a water fountain. Beyond lay a picturesque view of the city behind ceiling to floor glass. This room was designed to house us, indefinitely if need be. There were no sleeping arrangements, but otherwise this room could keep us without need of interruption.

I spent some time examining the room, but after only a short reprieve we were called back to the courtroom to begin the trial in earnest.

Each of us was issued a small notebook for which we could take notes. We were given caution not to get too absorbed in taking notes so that we could focus on evidence and the witnesses.

The Prosecutor began with his opening statement. Though we could not consider any of the attorney’s words as evidence, we could understand their opinion and get a good understanding of their perspective.
Mr. Smith briefly described an early morning encounter. An argument between one Mr. Gabriel Jackson and the victim Ms Theresa Derringer, in the which Jackson waved a “Silver Coated” pistol and pointed it at Theresa’s face, as she was returning home from work.

Not a great way to end your day.

I noted a hesitation when Smith described the pistol as “silver coated.” I mentally translated it to the correct description, “nickel plated,” and came to the conclusion that this Mr. Smith didn’t know his firearms.

Further, Mr. Smith informed us that our duties as jurors was to focus on one moment in time, the five seconds that Gabriel Jackson pointed that “silver coated” weapon at Theresa’s face and threatened her with her life. There was a lot of history and events surrounding this “one moment in time” and we were asked to ignore the surrounding events and focus on the crime alone.

It was an emotionally riveting argument and it was made clear that only the crime in question was to be evaluated. Fair enough.

Next Mr. Jones had his turn. His plan was simple. He was going to ask Ms Derringer if she had not taken her son to the bus stop within an hour of her life being threatened. And following that, would ask if she didn’t take a nap. Following that he would ask if she did not attend a house closing that very afternoon. Then there was the question of the police report. Why weren’t the police called?

Next, Mr. Jones would call Ms Derringer’s mother to the stand and the mother would testify that the events did NOT occur as reported by the victim.

Next witnesses would be called to testify that Mr. Gabriel Jackson, mere days after threatening to kill Ms Derringer, would help her move into her new house.

In short, Mr. Jones was going to lay out a framework of evidence and facts, that would show that the incident, as reported by Theresa Derringer was implausible.

After opening statements, it was clear that we, the Jury, had our work cut out for us. It was clear that one of the parties, the Suspect or the Victim was lying, and it was up to us to determine who.