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Juror Number 43 Reporting

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By. Tereasa Sanders-Halligan November 2010

Jury Duty = A Hand that Holds Another's Life.

I've just finished my term of jury duty for Canyon County in the State of Idaho.

I write this in hopes that it will be cathartic.

When I was first summoned to potentially serve on jury duty I was not happy. Though my life is not a busy one, it is still my life and I like it fine the way it works. Jury duty was going to disturb my routines and I was not a happy camper.

When I received the call to attend court and participate in Voir Dire*

I felt perhaps I would be lucky and not be chosen. I went in righteously and with honesty but hoped they might find something about me that was unacceptable and would set me free.

I was nervous. I had not lead a pristine life. I had some experience in matters similar to the case I might have to serve on. Surely I would be released.

I was chosen along with 12 other people to serve.

I accepted this with some disappointment and maybe just a little bit of pride. I am not sure where the pride came in, but have to truthfully admit that it was there. Perhaps a subliminal patriotic feeling of being fit to meet my civic duty?

Almost immediately after being chosen, we were seated and the judge allowed the case to be presented to us.

Let me set the scenario a little before I continue. 13 strangers are seated on fairly uncomfortable chairs in a gallery raised a little above the spectator and participant levels. I had always wondered why it was that jurors always had stern expressions on their faces when I'd seen them on TV. Had the court instructed them to wear a poker face before proceeding? Nobody instructed us as to facial expressions. The attorneys, the judge, and the defendant as well as witnesses etc. monitor our expressions constantly perhaps in order to determine how their words and evidence affect us. I wore the straight face for 3 days during this trial I did not want anyone to be able to read me and assume that I was leaning their way or not until I had been able to process the information coming my way. I did not want any to assume that I would be convinced without having all of the evidence and the whole story presented and processed fairly in my mind. I must wear a fair and impartial face until all is said and done. Let me tell you, it is not easy to force a stiff face for that length of time. There were times when I wanted to smile at one or the other of the attorneys in order to let them know their point had been made or that their evidence made sense to me. I could not do that and still appear impartial and so I stiffened up my lip and carried on. This solves the mystery of Juror poker face.

Ours was a case of a battered woman. A case of an alleged woman beater. **

The ratio of women to men on the jury leaned towards the female. I do not know what it is that attorneys seek in picking who will serve, but in a case like ours I can assume the woman factor played a part. Not because we would favor the woman victim necessarily, but because our life experiences as females may have given us a little insight into the dynamics of battered woman syndrome? We might be more perceptive to the theory of male dominance on a basic level? Could a panel with a majority of women jurors be fair and impartial towards the male defendant? In my opinion and from this experience I will assure you that we could and that we were. At no time did I forget that we held a man's life and future in our hands. At no time did I forget that this case was not about me or what my gut told me was true, but about a man and about a woman and always about what evidentially happened in their lives on this occasion. As American people, we tend to want to consider both sides of a tale before deciding. We tend to want to be sure we've done the right thing. We were lawfully bound by the court to base our verdict on the evidence allowed in court and based upon that information we deliberated and reached our verdict.

I know that you are still waiting for the dirty, little details of this case and of this story. So that you would continue to read, I could string you along for awhile longer but since I've been living a court ordered integrity the last few days I will tell you now that this juror will never be willing to publish details concerning an issue that effected people's lives in such an appalling manner!

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Idaho writer of numerous political commentary and opinion.

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