Jury Duty Days 2 and 3

So we heard witness testimony today, unfortunately it looks like the trial may be going longer than the anticipated 3 days (which from what I understood, was suppose to include jury selection). I know things are slower because of the various interpreters we have to use. Not only do my interpreters have to occasionally ask for repetition, we also have an interpreter for those who speak Vietnamese as their native language. The questions are having to be repeated, so are the answers, interpreted and voiced for the court.

I’m also noticing the defense attorney really likes to make objections, he likes to ask complicated questions and expects a simple yes or no answer, when I don’t think there are simple yes or no answers to the questions being asked. I’m also beginning to wonder if things are getting “lost in translation” through the Vietnamese interpreter, just as sometimes complexities get “lost in translation” with an ASL interpreter.

I’m having to remind myself, I can’t let my opinion of the Defense Attorney cloud my judgment of the defendant, I can not make my mind up on innocence or guilt just yet, there are still more witnesses and more evidence to consider. During jury selection yesterday the Defense Attorney asked us if we understood that sometimes he has to ask questions with “vigor” was the term used by him. And yes, I do understand that sometimes that is necessary, but I am also thinking, this man, a white older man, has most likely never been in a situation where he has needed to use an interpreter for himself, he doesn’t understand that 1, things take a little longer to get the message across, he also doesn’t understand, that normally the words don’t have a direct translation into another language. You have to think about the concepts the words represent, you have to think about the meaning behind it. It is also the interpreters choice of words that gets portrayed… and if the interpreter changes how the words are said, even if the meaning is the same, it is not a reflection of the witness, but more of a reflection of the particular interpreters choice of words. If an interpreter doesn’t think the message that was clearly conveyed to them was clearly conveyed (in this case to the court) than the next time they can change the words (but not the meaning) that are said. This was the case today (Aug 1). The meaning and the concept was the same, so much the same that my interpreters used the same signs, and when the defense attorney got upset about him “changing his words” my interprets actually had to finger spell the different words for me. The words were assaulted and attacked. I have to go back into the jury room now. I will write during my next break, we are starting Defense witnesses finally.

Ok, so we finished in an hour and a half what it took more than 2 days for the DA (District Attorney) to complete, their side of the witnesses. The DA had 7 or 8 witnesses with him, the majority of them requiring a Vietnamese interpreter. The Police officers did not require interpreters, but all of his other witnesses did. The Defense Attorney, on the other hand, his 2 witnesses spoke fluent English, as well as fluent Vietnamese, and they both elected to use English. The defendant (the person accused of the crime) did take the stand and spoke for himself. It really is interesting, for the most part when the DA was questioning his witnesses, he was much more kind, except for the first on Tuesday, when there were possible impeachment issues. Today, he was much harsher, although still fairly kind. I understand that he has to be able to try and get the truth out of the witnesses, as does the Defense attorney, but I do find it very interesting to see how their demeanor changes depending on how the conversation is flowing.

I didn’t give as many “really” faces today as I did yesterday, although the Defense Attorney still liked to object (and I love the sign that was used is the same to convey complaining). It got rather frustrating with that particular attorney objecting left and right, I understand he is suppose to have his clients best interests in mind,but it gets rather frustrating for the lawyer to keep making us go back and forth to the jury room (which incidentally, has sort of become a 2nd home these last few days).

We have concluded with witness testimony as I said, but that unfortunately doesn’t mean we are free to go home just yet… we have about an hour and 15 minutes to take a break, some people on the jury went to the art museum, which gives free admission to anyone wearing a jury tag, and although it is interesting at the art museum, I don’t think 1, I would be able to fully appreciate the museum, 2, nor would I be able to really converse with my fellow jurors, which they have done quite a bit, and when my interpreters are there, I can join in on the conversation and get to know them… but the interpreters are taking a break too, so that would mean I would be left with lipreading and the limited use my CI, this isn’t really something I am interested in doing right now. So I’m sitting outside, in the relatively cool air, sometimes being asked random questions by people that I am not understanding… and not particularly wanting to understand either. We aren’t suppose to talk to anyone we don’t know right now, because they could potentially be a witness to the case. Even though we are finished with witness testimony, I don’t think its allowed yet.

One interesting thing that happened during the last 20 to 30 minutes of witness testimony was a group of people walking into the court room and just… observing. At first they just sat down, then they noticed I had to ASL interpreters, so they moved. My initial thought was what happens quite a bit, someone sees an interpreter, and they just want to watch. Sometimes because ASL is a beautiful language, and yes… yes it is… sometimes because they are interested to see what is happening, sometimes because they have never seen ASL before, and sometimes, its just the novelty of it all. The judge released us, after I promptly rolled my eyes at the people watching the interpreters. I walked out of the court room, and to my great surprise, two of them were signing. I immediately understood why they were watching the interpreters, for the same reason I was, to understand what was happening. I apologized and informed them I now understood why, and I was thinking… why in the world are hearing people here to observe watching MY interpreters. Turns out one of the men in the group was Deaf, someone I hadn’t met before, but we had a short conversation before I remembered I wasn’t suppose to talk with anyone I didn’t know. I was just so excited to have someone else that I could converse freely with, without having to go through an interpreter, without having to lipread, without having to voice. He told me how he has always wanted to be on a jury and that it must be a very interesting experience. I said yes, it is, its very interesting, but highly time consuming and there are other things I would rather be doing with my days here, like working. I then remembered I had instructions not to talk to anyone I didn’t know, so I apologized, and walked outside.

There is an alternate juror, we aren’t sure who that person is yet… but it really is starting to look like we will go into tomorrow at least for deliberations. Part of me wants to be the alternate, because that means that I can go to work tomorrow (hopefully)… but part of me, doesn’t want to have “wasted” 3 days of precious work time, 3 days of 60% loss in pay… for NOTHING… for just to be told to go home, and your part in the trial is over. We will see. We are suppose to go back in soon… but I’m thinking I am going to take a break before hand and lay outside in the cloudy sky… looking for shapes again. Yesterday, I was sure that I saw a dragon turning into a horse… its the little things you don’t think about when you are busy that get you… we will see I guess… I still have a few minutes before I need to be back in… or maybe be back in.

the beautiful view of the sky from the balcony outside on the 5th floor of the court house.

We received the closing arguments, our instructions, then were sent home for the day… we have to be back tomorrow morning for deliberations. The entire time the DA was talking, he was looking at me, sometimes the other jurors, but mostly at me. He knows and understands that I know what it is like to have a language barrier, and I’m thinking, still thinking, this is why I was put on that jury. The Defense attorney, he was very confusing, I asked for clarification from my interpreters a few times… especially when he asked us to find the defendant (his client) guilty… and not only on one of the potential charges, but on both second and third degree assault… this is something we can not do, we may end up finding him guilty on one of the charges, but we can not find him guilty on both. I’m wondering if he is getting ready that if something were to happen where there was a negative outcome to the case (in his view) to show he was incompetent… only time will tell. Although I do think it is time for him to retire.


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