Who would take a bike?

Honestly… who would steel a bike? I locked my bike up at work, because I figured that with not having somewhere to lock it up at home, it would be safer at work. As well as I would most likely use it more at work.

It needed some work, I needed new tubes, needed to oil and/or replace the chain, and get my wheels trued… but when I went outside to go to fedex this morning… this is what I saw…

right where my bike was… it is now empty…

who would take a bike? who would take a bike that was kinda broken down? why would anyone but me want my bike? grrr… eventually I might have to get a new bike… but this… this just tells me that the world we live in… its awful, people doing what is right for them, instead of what is right for the rest of everyone else…

Final Day of Jury Duty

Sorry this took so long to get out… I’ve been, busy to say the least.

So the final day of jury duty was an interesting one, and really makes me happy that I did complete my Jury Duty. The final day was deliberations. This is the first and only day I decided to drive, because I was going to head to work right after Jury Duty was over.

We arrived at 8 AM, the first thing I noticed, was I had two new interpreters who I hadn’t seen before. I was expecting the two I had the day before, but after chatting for a minute to bring them up to speed on the name signs I was use to for the different people, as well as just chatting, I understood why they would bring in a new set of interpreters. They wanted to be sure that my interpreters personal opinions on the case didn’t influence my opinion on the case. Although interpreters are suppose to be 100% neutral, and just interpret what is being said, it is very hard not to let personal opinions get in the way, especially with body language.

We started deliberations as soon as everyone was there, we elected a Jury Foreman, or the person who would keep us on track, and also deliver the verdict to the court. We chose a woman named Elizabeth, who was very fair and use to teach, which really did help keep us on track. We discussed witness by witness, what their relations to either the defendant or the victim were, their demeanor on the stand, their language, how words can be changed through an interpreter, their motives for taking the stand, how their stories changed, who’s stories lined up with one another, the important pieces of their testimonies, what could have impacted their memory, what could have impacted their testimonies… we talked for hours. I had to keep interjecting, please, one at a time, please talk one at a time. My interpreters did a great job keeping up (as long as the conversation was one at a time) and I think my inputs were valuable.

We were asked to consider 3 verdicts

  1. Guilty of Second Degree Assault. Meaning he had intent, meaning he caused serious bodily injury
  2. Guilty of Third Degree Assault. Meaning he knowing caused bodily injury
  3. Not guilty. Not necessarily meaning he didn’t commit the crime, only there was insufficient evidence.

 

After hours of deliberation, we were sure of 2 things.

  1. The crime happened in the city and county of Denver on or around Jan 23, 2012 (this was never in dispute)
  2. the victim suffered serious bodily injury. With a broken face, a broken arm, 6 broken ribs and a punctured lung, this also wasn’t in dispute.

 

But… what we were unsure of, what we had no reasonable proof of, was who committed the crime. The only person who placed the defendant in the group of men who attacked him was the victim, who’s memory could have been affected by his head injury, the alcohol present in his system or a number of other things. When people are beating the living daylights out of you, people have a tendency to remember a face of a person they know, especially if the other people around you are unknown faces.

 

And because we were unable to determine who committed the crime, we were unable to determine intent or knowledge of a crime being committed. Because of this, we unanimously, the first time, voted he was not guilty on all charges.

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.

Jury Duty Day 1 July 30, 2012

Ok, so I have been selected to be a juror on a trial by Jury for a criminal Second Degree assault case. But, because I can’t actually talk about the case while it is going on, this blog will not be published until we the Jury have reached a verdict. Jury selection took much longer than I thought it would, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney ask questions to the jury, so does the judge.

Jury duty is a little different in my case, because I don’t understand the words coming out of people’s mouths, being Deaf, I am using two Sign Language interpreters, who switch off every 20-30 minutes. The interpreters have to be sworn in, I’m not entirely sure what they are promising, but they have to be sworn in too. One thing, even with my Criminal Justice minor, its really interesting that though we will be returning a verdict of guilty or not guilty, we are not actually judging if the defendant is guilty or not, but what we are judging is if the district attorney has proved beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was guilty.

This case is not about was it done, but more about who did it. The defendant is saying he did not commit the assault. I cannot make a decision at this point if the defendant has done the crime, or if the district attorney can prove he was the one who committed the crime. We only had jury selection and opening arguments today, we have heard no evidence.

 

What I can say, is I think I know why the district attorney (DA) was happy to have me on the case, the victim in this case uses an interpreter to speak to people who speak English. This man uses Vietnamese as his language; the district attorney says his English is “broken”. This is not a term I am happy about, but I understand what he is meaning. Though my English has never been described as “broken” I have several friends who people have said use broken English. The DA described how when the victim was in the hospital, he had a hard time communicating with doctors, with nurses, with police officers. This man was in the hospital for a week, I can imagine how scary it was for this guy not to be able to tell people what was wrong, what was happening, even have a simple conversation with the nurse. I can see why the DA was happy to have me on his trial, something I hadn’t thought would really happen. I thought they wouldn’t want to have a Deaf person on the trail, I thought they wouldn’t want the costs of the interpreters. My interpreters will not be the only interpreters for the case, there will be people who use Vietnamese interpreters as well.

I am not allowed to talk to anyone I don’t know during the trial, because we can’t say who is a witness and who isn’t. I also have to wear a tag that says I’m a juror, that way attorneys will know not to talk about cases around me (even though I can’t understand what they are saying…) The judge made a special instruction for me, there are times when both attorneys go up to the bench, to discuss something they aren’t sure is ok for the jury to hear… the judge asked people not to strain their ears, and not to use any lip reading to know what is going on.

 

We had to wear this so people would know we were Jurors, and not to talk around us

That was day 1, I will hopefully write more about day 2. This is maybe going to help me decide what I will be able to decide, but if nothing else, this will be a good record for me, sitting in court and trying to make a decision that will impact more than one persons lives (even though there is only one defendant).

Crime so close to home

in the past week I believe, there have been two shootings (that I know of) so close to my home. The first one didn’t make headlines, it didn’t make news, but it affected me and my community. The shooting happened very close to my church, and the victim of the shooting actually came into my church for help on Sunday Morning.

It was a frightening scene to see police tape around a church.

Candles during warship for victims of Crime

Just because this did not make national headline news, happened in a “shady” part of Denver, does it make it any less sad? No. I am thankful the young man who was shot survived, and I worry for the heart of the man who shot him.

Today, very early this morning, in another part of town, at a movie theater I have attended many times (It is one of the only ones near me that offers captioning), a PhD Candidate named James Holmes opened fire, killing 12 and injuring many more. (you can read one story here)

I try to think about what was going through his mind, what would make it ok for him to think he can do such a thing, and honestly, I am at a loss for words. I studied sociology as well as Criminology and Criminal Justice in college, and yet, I can not wrap my mind around the horrific tragedies that have occurred. What is our world coming to? How does anyone think it is perfectly fine to open fire on another human being who is not threatening them in any way?

the gun man. A PhD Candiate

I am not anti-gun, I do support the second amendment, or the right to bear arms, but sometimes I seriously wonder if a psychological examination should be required before someone purchases a weapon. I know there are other ways to get guns and other weapons, but I seriously wonder about the health of our world with all the violence going on today.

These two incidents, in such a short time span, they scare me. I am not denying it, I am scared. If a person can’t even go to the movies without fear of being shot and murdered, what are we to do? How can someone who was a PhD candidate do such a thing, and then, booby trap his home, and apartment complex designated purely for University of Colorado Medical Center (aka doctors in training) and their families to live, possibly intending to blow up that entire location? Is this man going to claim the insanity defense? is he insane? should that be cause for him to get off with a lighter sentence? So many thoughts running through my head right now… I don’t know where to start, or where to end.

I need to go home and cuddle with my love tonight, knowing that as long as we are in each others arms… everything in our little world is right.

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