For the last three days I had Jury Duty. After all was said and done, it took me awhile to digest what I went though. To help myself work through that, I wrote this:

Jury Duty

Earlier this week I reported for Jury Duty in Galveston County. I am one of the few people I know who looks forward to Jury Duty. It is a right that only Free Countries have. So many have fought and bled for our freedom, I take our rights seriously.

On Monday morning I reported for the main assembly and since there was nothing on the dockets for that day, we were let go a few hours later with the understanding that we will be contacted throughout the week. That evening I got an email stating I needed to go in the next morning for vous dire.

On Tuesday morning, we stood outside of the courtroom, I noticed the number of people waiting to go in, so I thought my chances of getting seated for a trial was slim. When they came out to call us in according to our Juror Number the first name called, “Juror number 1, William Overton” Wow, I have never been number one before except in the eyes of my dog. I went to my assigned seat. As the rest of the people were called in, I noticed that there were 65 people here. I thought that my chances were still slim. When they called the ones, who were chosen to stay, I was seated as juror number one out of twelve. We were told that this is a Criminal Case and the charge was Sexual Assault.

When I showed up for court the next morning, I was not looking forward to this trial given the type of case. Funny how hearing the charge of Sexual Assault, my thought was “How long will we put this guy away?” even though you are innocent until proven guilty. I have served on juries several times, but this is my first criminal trial. During vous dire, the two attorneys talked with us and asked us many questions. My perception of them was; the Assistant DA who was bringing the charges was a confident young man who knew his stuff. The defense lawyer was a confident young lady who knew how to communicate well, but I perceived her as being somewhat passive. When the trial officially started, I was correct when the ADA presented his case. He was knowledgeable and confident and convinced us of this man’s guilt. When the defense lawyer started…. man, who let the bulldog out? She went straight for the jugular of the case and did not let up. During our first break to the jury room, we are not allowed to talk about that case at all, so we had to be careful of what we said. I told the guy next to me “I did not expect it to be this spirited” He agreed, and we knew that was all we could say at that point.

As the day progressed, I was starting to believe that this guy was falsely accused. When all the witnesses took the stand, they were grilled mercilessly. When the accused took the stand, he was so genuine that when he was finished, I knew he was not guilty. The lawyers rested so we proceeded to finish up the trial. The ADA presented his closing statement which was very convincing. The defense lawyer presented her closing statement and she was very convincing. She was so passionate and clear of this man’s innocence. We were then given direction for our part of the trial and retired to the juror’s room to deliberate. We picked who we wanted to represent us who then asked for us to write down what we thought this case should be, ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. We wrote down what we thought and handed them in. All twelve of us voted ‘not guilty’. Wow, that was easy! We let the bailiff know so the court was back in session. I watched the accused when the verdict was read. When the words ‘not guilty’ was read, he broke down and you could see the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders. It was amazing to see, one moment, he was looking at possibly 20 years in prison, then the next moment he was a free man. This reminded me of the time I accepted Christ as my Savior, my sins, no longer condemned me even though I WAS guilty of my sins.

That was the process of the trial, now I will tell you without too many details of what led to this man being accused. Four years ago, he married a lady who had three children, two of which were already on their own. The third, a 14-year-old girl who had never had a father figure in her life until her mom married. This man was her first father figure and accepted this girl as his own child. When time came for discipline, like curfew, who she ran around with and other things she had been used to, she did not like her new way of being told what not to do. She was caught sending nude photos of herself to her boyfriend and when caught, she was grounded. She did not like being disciplined. So, she made up the story that he touched her inappropriately. This was never proven and since it never happened it could not be proven. Her stepfather was arrested, served a short time in jail, lost his job and while out on bail, could not find anyone who would hire him since he was accused of sexual assault. The girl who at the time was 14 years old, is now 19, took the stand and she contradicted herself several times. She never seemed emotional but confident and determined. The sad part of this is when she was accused of lying, she remained unemotional and confident, almost proud of the accusation. Later the mother took the stand and said that her former husband (they are now divorced because of all of this) did not do what he was accused of. Several other people took the stand and were questioned in detail. When the accused stepfather took the stand, he was emotional and genuine. Even when he was fiercely grilled, his answers were constant and confident. It was at this point that I was sure that he was falsely accused, and he was not guilty. He was the victim in this case.

As I drove home from the courthouse, I prayed for this man. His life was altered because of this girl who he accepted as one of his children falsely accused him since she did not get her way. He has not been able to get a job because in his background check he was accused of sexual assault. Now that his record is cleared, that information will forever be on the Internet and he will still have difficulty getting a job because of that. I pray he will get his life back together and be able to move on with his life.