Posted by: Marie | October 21, 2010

(427) Their day in court – Part 2 of 4

Post #427
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 – continued from previous post]

The defense attorney mainly focused on dates and locations, and the ages of the girls when these events occurred . . . and Kari repeatedly answered that she couldn’t remember, didn’t know, wasn’t sure . . .

These events started about six years ago (when Kari was four) and ended 18 months ago (when Kari was eight) – which is not that long ago – yet, Kari was unable to remember key details. If she can’t remember those details after such a relatively short time, how can I expect myself to remember such details about my own story that happened 35-40 years ago?

One of the reasons I have doubted my own story is because I can’t remember such details. Watching Kari struggle with the details of her ordeal allowed me to relax some of the standards to which I have been holding my ability to remember. It allowed me to come one step closer to trusting what I do remember.

Ali Mountain by Martin Chen

Finally, Kari’s testimony was finished and she left the courtroom.

The judge called for a 15-minute comfort break. After the jury and the judge left the courtroom, I saw George stand up and put his hands behind his back. The gentleman who had been sitting near the defense table – who had been introduced as a consultant – started putting handcuffs and legs shackles on George.

My mouth almost hit the floor. I had assumed George walked in and out of the courtroom freely, just like the rest of us. But, no. And, the consultant . . . well, he was actually a law enforcement officer dressed in a business suit.

I watched this whole process of removing George from the room with great interest. All of the sudden there was a flurry of activity around the main courtroom doors. The clerk was hollering for whomever was holding the door open to shut it quickly . . . quickly!

The door got shut . . . George was escorted out.

Everyone abandoned the courtroom except me . . . and the second-chair defense attorney.

The attorney was sitting a long table’s length away from me . . . I leaned forward a bit and asked if I would be violating protocol if I asked a question of her. She answered it would be fine for us to talk.

I asked about the restraints and the “consultant” and the ruckus at the door . . . what did it all mean?

She told me the jury was not allowed to see George in restraints because it would likely prejudice them against him. They had to see him as a “free” man. They had hidden his true status from all of us in the jury pool during jury selection so the final jury would not be tainted. The ruckus at the door was because the jury members had not yet cleared the hallway when someone opened the door. The jury could have looked in through the open door and they could have seen George in his restraints.

Ah! That makes sense.

I assured her his status had been hidden well . . . I had been clueless up to that point. I had even bought into the story about the officer being some kind of consultant – I figured he was a jury consultant. She was pleased to hear that.

She then paused for a second, took a good look at my tear-stained face . . . empathetically grimaced a bit and asked me how I was doing with everything I was hearing.

I’m not sure if she remembered the content of my own testimony given two days ago . . . I mean, I’m sure she heard 50 or 60 people’s stories in those two days . . . I’m not sure she could have remembered my story in particular. Maybe she just made some assumptions based upon the story my face was telling in the current moment.

I told her it was very difficult to hear the testimony from the girls – that it was stirring up old memories for me. I also admitted to her I was very glad I had been dismissed from the jury pool. I said, had I been selected, I would have done my duty. But, knowing what I know now, I am very glad I had been dismissed.

Of course, telling her that brought another flood of tears to my face . . and sobs, of course. Oh, bloody hell.

But, I just let the tears come . . . I continued the conversation despite them. (Maybe I’m getting used to being a constant emotional mess . . .??)

She agreed it was difficult to listen to testimony like this, even as a defense attorney. She admitted sometimes it gets to her, too. When she said that, I swear I saw a look of maternal instinct push through her professional mask. I saw her fighting to hold back her emotions and her tears.

For a minute, we both struggled for composure.

I took the lead in changing the subject. I told her, while I totally understand defendants are entitled to a vigorous defense – and while I absolutely agree they should receive a vigorous defense – I just cannot imagine what it must be like to do her job. I’m not sure I could stomach it.

She didn’t say much . . . she just kind of nodded and grimaced again.

Not wanting to wear out my welcome, I then excused myself and took my place in my obscure corner of the gallery.

A few minutes later, everyone straggled back in. The jury and judge took their places, and the next witness – the girls’ mother – I’ll call her Darla – took the stand.

I was very interested in what she had to say – I still am trying to make sense of how a mom can be blind to signs of sexual abuse in her own child and I was hoping her testimony would help me with that process.

Darla had quite a story to tell . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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