NORMAN — Have you ever witnessed an accident or caught a glimpse of an event or action which left you wondering how it all turned out?
It is difficult to ignore a driver weaving from one lane to the other. Even though the time he stayed in any given lane varied, anyone watching his travel pattern felt compelled to slow down to avoid getting too close to him. When he drove through a small town, he included the turn lane in his personal three lane travels.
Suddenly, he was in the oncoming lane and within seconds he collided almost head on with an oncoming car. The cars were spinning and spewed flying debris flying everywhere. The scene resembled the children’s game “Battling Tops” — tops are released into the playing field, collide and eliminate the opposition.
The door on the driver’s side of the car was peeled off, airbags were deployed and the guy sat there repeating, “I’m sorry.” His eyes were shiny.
Some said the other driver was hurt, but then the police came. They took our witness statements and sent us on our way. To this day, when passing the spot where the accident happened, I wonder how it all played out. Did the other driver recover? Was this driver arrested? Were drugs involved?
Jury duty has the same potential to drive you crazy. The entire process reminds one of a casting call or “cattle call” for a movie or a play.
The swearing in and selection process is intermixed with tedious waiting. Unless you bring a book, you might fall asleep. I read one book on my Kindle and started another.
Eventually potential jurors are called to various courtrooms for the preliminary examination. This is called voir dire [vwaar déer], meaning “to speak the truth.” It is from the Old French and is almost always mispronounced and/or Americanized as [vor dire]. I was tempted to tell the judge and the lawyers how it should be pronounced, but muzzled my teacher-persona.
A couple of cases for which I was not chosen still gnaw at my curiosity bone, and my imagination tries to compensate by creating possible endings.
Case one: The defendant was charged with the possession of 3 ounces of marijuana. His lawyer should have cleaned the guy up before that court appearance — dirty, long uncombed hair in a ponytail, sloppy T-shirt and wrinkled jeans did not help the defendant’s case.
Several prospective jurors expressed their belief that marijuana should be legalized, including a well-dressed physician, and the pool quickly dwindled. Even so, I was not chosen. I still wonder if he was found guilty or innocent, and what was his life like today.
Case two: This domestic violence case charged a tall, burly man in an ill-fitting rumpled suit and shirt with a misdemeanor. He should have made a quick trip to a big and tall shop prior to his hearing. The twist was that the charge was the lowest rung on the Misdemeanor scale — pain was allegedly inflicted by the guy, but there was no visible manifestation of such assault. The burden of proof was on the prosecution to convince the jury that the defendant had indeed inflicted such invisible pain on another person.
My writer side was praying to be chosen for the jury, but no such luck.
Now I am left to create possible scenarios in which the guy was found guilty and some in which he was declared innocent. On the heels of such imaginings, the possible repercussions of a guilty or innocent verdict are clamoring to be told.
The frustrating part in each of the foregoing examples is that I will never know what happened in those courtrooms or with the accident victims.
Every citizen in the country is a potential juror. Many are called, but few are chosen.
Elizabeth is an author and freelance writer. Website: www.elizabethcowan.com. Check out Liz Cowan’s novels: “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” on Amazon.com.