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In July of 1996, Jay Levine sat on the jury of a small criminal case in New York City. It involved two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigated the crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecuted the offenders. These are their stories. DUN DUN!

Jury Duty i (13/15)

July 9, 1996

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→ Later 1:50pm

Wow, the drama! (and tedium) only continues to build. Frankel lambasted Schneider today without remorse or restraint – battering him relentlessly over certain discrepancies in testimony; primarily that of who stood where, and when. Did Moore or Lucky pass closer to Shahini; what words, exactly, were used to discuss this matter? Schneider attempted to retreat into ambiguous equivocation but Frankel had that dratted 300 page transcription from the grand jury hearing and continually referred to well marked pages; forcing Schneider to acknowledge that a lie then was as harmful to reputation + credibility as a lie now. If he says one thing then and a new thing now, it hardly matters, in effect, which one is “true” – they are both subject forevermore to suspicion. At one point he did nothing to disguise his disappointment + contempt for Schneider’s character and police work + intelligence. “I’m going to read this to you one more time,” he said, referring to the grand jury testimony. “I’ll read it slowly. You tell me if there’s a word you don’t understand.” It was horrible and transfixing. I could not look away but I squirmed internally. Poor bastard Schneider who up to that point had appeared to all (I imagine) as, if nothing else, a decent human being and competent police officer, left the stand probably questioning his own value as either.

So everyone rested their respective cases and then more waiting (of course everything I have listed has been punctuated by liberal portions of waiting) and then Dwyer gave first summation. It was predictable and convincing – she questioned everything – emphasizing especially Shahini’s description of the taller “lighter skinned” black man, and also the discrepancy in location + position of the defendants during their alleged felonious activity. She presented her summation w/a professional concision somewhat lacking from her previous litigation and I give her credit there. However the predictability of her content was not compensated by sufficient ferver, and the only element that kept me from completely nodding off was the sub-arctic temperature of the court which set my entire body shivering as though we were all sitting in a meat locker. I surmise that they purposefully lowered the temp beyond previous already chill-full levels in an attempt (somewhat successful) to hold our attention. Or at least consciousness. Dwyer droned on, my head filled w/fog. Perpetual creaking + groaning of chairs indicated that others, like myself, were in a state of perpetual rearrangement in an attempt to stay awake. I can say with relative confidence that except for 1 or 2 extended blinks, my eyes remained open. I cannot say the same for my brain. Once or twice I found myself staring, eyes-wide, at a dream superimposed across the court scene; shaking my head madly in an attempt to clear it.

One consolation to all this is that I noticed on more than one occasion (and this was later confirmed by a fellow juror) the judge himself twitching + nodding in his chair w/clearly equivalent alertness to my own.

Anyway, now we are back and (what else?) waiting. Next I imagine will come the summation of Frankel and then the final summation of Hayes. Then we adjourn to deliberate. Then we deliberate. Whether I myself and Dennis (fellow alternate or, it could be said, “alternate alternate”) are involved in this process remains to be determined… Then a verdict will be reached, of this I am reasonably confident. But we shall see. All it takes is one stubborn hothead to gum up the works indefinitely? Or is there a time limit?


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