I served as jury foreman on the trial of 2 thugs who murdered Dr. Michael Groll, a leading infertility specialist, on New Year's Day 1986.
Didn't realize the extent of the legal system until I was chosen to serve. I was at first excited. Hey I was chosen, blah, blah, blah. Then it hit me. The trial was to begin in mid June of 1986. I already had orders to be up in Ney York City for the Statue of Liberty rededication celebration. I contacted the judge and told him that I WOULD BE GOING TO NYC. That there was nothing keeping me from that once in a lifetime opportunity. Judge said that he was pretty sure the trial would be over in enough time.
So on we go. We were sequestered for the entire time. Newspapers were chopped apart, we had a sheriff with us 24/7. We could watch TV but we learned real quick to turn the channel if a news brief came on. We stayed 2 to a room in the local hotel. We could eat what ever we wanted off the menu but could only consume 2 alcoholic beverages at night during the meal. We paid for the beverages but everything else was free. It became a game to us to see what time the trial would begin each day. We had a pool set up at 5 cents per person. The entire jury and alternates sat together until it was time for the actual deliberations when the alternates had to leave. We were instructed to not discuss the case except in the courthouse. Yeah right !!! We re-enacted the crime in the hotel rooms according to testimony.
We only heard about 1/2 of what was recorded in the local newspapers. Everytime something big happened, there was an objection and we were ushered out of the room. The arguments were heard and then we would come back in and be told a synopsis of what occurred. 1 poor kid celebrated his 21st birthday with only 2 beers !!!!! After a week of testimony, we were set for deliberations. We were getting close on Friday so we stayed late. But then told the judge we thought we could finish on Saturday. He agreed but now that meant that they would ALL have to come back on Saturday morning when the courthouse is normally closed. We sure messed up everybody's weekend plans. But hey we couldn't do what we wanted because we were sequestered, so screw them all. Couldn't do it by lunch time Saturday so we were instructed to try again on Monday. That afternoon, the tipstaff pulled me to the side and said that he could probably spring for a case of beer and pizzas if I thought the rest of the jurors would agree and we could relax a little better. So off I go in a sheriff's vehicle to the beer store. I sat in the front BTW. I'm no dummy so when he said 1 case, I got the biggest cans I could. Too bad they didn't have 30 packs back then !!!!
Finally we compromise on a verdict on Monday but wait......we now have to deal with the penalty phase since this was a 1st degree murder conviction. Another 2 days and we were finally done. Woo hoo.
But I was told that I will never be on another case like that again because I have learned too much about the legal system in a capitol murder case and would be tainted. OK by me. Received a notice 3 years later and it was a civil suit involving a car crash. Too easy for me. I had a lot of explaining to do with the other jurors teaching them about collision damage.
Next summons I ignored. When contacted by the courts, I told them that at the time I was scheduled to appear, I was fixing the local police department vehicle and I thought that was more important. If I ever see another summons, unless it is sent certified with return receipt requested, how will they know that the mail was delivered ????