I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

12/06/2005

File under-Too much information.

When a jury is selected for any type of case, there are usually alternates selected in case one of the regular jurors has to be dismissed for any reason. Some judges don't use them however. The judge I work for at one time preferred not to use alternates, if the attorneys involved had no objections. He felt that it was hard on the alternate to sit through the trial and not get to participate in deliberations and it simply cost more to use alternates that not.

But something happened to change all that.

A civil trial had begun and since both the attorneys had agreed, there were no alternates and they would use a jury of six instead of the twelve that are standard on civil juries.

The case proceeded smoothly and around noon, the judge broke for lunch and told everyone to be back at 1:30 to start again.

Around 2:00, I heard the judge say that they would take a break. This was unusual, since they had only been back in session for half an hour.

The judge, deputy and court reporter came into the office and the court reporter looked at me and said, "She could go." I was a little confused and asked where.

It seems that one of the jurors was feeling unwell and had asked to go to the bathroom. So the judge asked me to check on her. I went into the bathroom and she was sitting on the little bench in there and it was obvious she was not well at all. Her face was gray, she was sweating profusely and she was breathing so rapidly I thought she would hyperventilate.

I was concerned that she was having a heart attack or stroke and asked her if she had felt unwell all day or had she suddenly started feeling sick. She said she was fine before lunch, but she and some of the other jurors had gone to lunch together and now she felt horribly sick. At this point, I figured she might have eaten something that disagreed with her and I asked her what she had eaten for lunch.

She was bent over, holding her stomach as she lifted her head to answer me. Instead of words, out of her mouth came a stream of vomit. I have heard of projectile vomiting, but have never before this point actually seen anyone do it. It must have gone a full six feet, because it went all the way to the wall on the opposite side of the bathroom. It splattered on the walls, the floor, the sink and unfortunately, all over my shoes.

Although I can handle the sight of blood and bone, of cuts and scraps, the sight and smell of vomitus usually causes an immediate sympathetic gag reflex. But not today.

Standing there in the bathroom with this very ill woman who had just vomited everywhere, all I could think of was, "You know, a verbal response to that question would have been sufficient."

I got her some wet paper towels, and I got me some wet paper towels. I cleaned her face and my shoes and went out to talk to the judge. He asked how she was and I looked him in the face and said, "She vomited on my shoes."

I will not ever forget the look on his face when I said it. He was completely and totally horrified.

She, of course, had to be removed from the jury and sent home, which left us with only five jurors and no alternates. The judge would have had to declare a mistrial if the attorneys had not agree to go with the remaining five.

And to this day, he has never again even mentioned not using alternates on juries. He sometimes tells the story to jurors who complain about being the alternate in order to help them understand the importance, the necessity and the purpose of having alternates on a jury.

And I have never forgotten what it was like to clean puke off my shoes.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mexigogue said...

I wonder if that was the chick who played Regan in The Exorcist. I love that movie. Did she develop a gutteral voice and start screaming F*** ME! F*** ME!! ? Man I have to watch that movie again!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Phelps said...

It's been a while since I did a case with a jury of six. In Texas, for civil trials, if you go with six, it has to be a unanimous verdict, but if you go with 12, 10 jurors can submit a verdict. So we usually go with 12, and if they all make it, they can all deliberate. (And one stand-out can't hang the whole jury.)

6:08 PM  

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