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Monday, 02 August 2010

Civic Duty

By Peter Tibbles who writes the Time Goes By Elder Music column that appears on Sundays.

Today I received a jury duty notice. I'm a magnet for these as I seem to get them regularly; I've been called many times. However, I usually get challenged, I guess they don't like the look of me.

Just once I've been on a trial. This was more than 30 years ago, and it was for three counts of indecent assault on a boy under 16 years old. Therein hangs this tale.

We, the jury, pretty much figured out later that this lad was quite promiscuous and liked to put it around a bit and his mother couldn't come to terms with his being gay so she brought a prosecution against his (then) latest conquest - a man in his forties. This was a retrial so everyone in court, except the jury, knew the facts of the case. This is significant.

Came the time when they were questioning the lad (who was about 18 by this stage) and he was asked where this alleged assault took place. He replied that it was in the back seat of the accused's car.

That was the "yellow mini minor motor car?" (the car was always referred to that same way. This is the old mini, not the new ones. I don't know if you know them but they were tiny).

We in jury looked at the defendant (about 6 foot 2 and solid) and looked at the lad (about six foot) and looked at the defendant and looked at the lad (hmmm).

Then there was the next question: "Had the defendant at this stage removed his wooden leg?"

WHAT???!!?? We went. Can you imagine how the jury was supposed to remain calm and sober after that?

It had been established earlier that the defendant was a driving instructor. Light globes above the jury (wooden leg? driving instructor?) Whenever we were sequestered (which was often as there seemed to be many points of order or law or some such) somebody would say, "wooden leg" and we'd all break up. It was difficult to remain serious when we returned to the court room.

This went on for three or four days.

We eventually retired to consider our verdict. I had already been elected foreman as I was the only one who'd been to university (I can't see the relevance there). We did a quick round: 12 not guilty.

Two minutes? We can't go back now, so we sat around for half an hour reading, doing crosswords and so on.

I had missed my chance to play Henry Fonda.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Would the verdict have been different if the alleged assault had taken place in the roomy back seat of a Cadillac? ;-)

and if the defendant hadn't had a wooden leg? Thanks, Peter, for a wonderful story.

The judge pretty much gave us instructions to bring in a Not Guilty verdict (without actually saying that) because there really was no real evidence against the defendant.

I served 3 times, only heard one case, which never should have reached trial. Nothing as interesting as your last case!

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