This was my first criminal trial so I have never sat in a criminal courtroom awaiting the jury to return with a verdict.
“Has the jury reached a verdict?” asked the Judge. “Yes, Your Honor,” he said and as the Judge stated each charge, the foreperson had the same response, “Guilty”!!!!!
I am an #MCAP volunteer and was appointed by the Court to represent a young girl who was sexually assaulted at the age of 12, but who kept it a secret for several months until she told her secret to some girlfriends. One of the girls told the principal who called my client’s parents who then called the police. There was an investigation which led to child abuse charges being filed against a family friend.
It was now time for the trial. The trial was held in a cavernous courtroom before 12 jurors and 2 alternates. It is hard to describe how remarkably intimidating and scary this courtroom is with a painted ceiling that reaches to the sky making for bad acoustics and the use of microphones a necessity. There is the jury box on the right of the room and a huge desk and chair built onto a platform that is about four feet high where the Judge sits.
At the end of this high desk area is the witness box. This is where my 14 year old client had to sit. To get there, she had to walk directly past the jury and up the few steps to the witness box. Her discomfort as she walked to the witness box was palpable. As she began answering questions, she broken down into sobs. She did not want to testify, but she dug down deep and with the incredible support of her family, she found the fortitude and her inner-strength, pulled herself together and detailed what happened to her.
The trial lasted two days. The jury had been out for about five hours when we were all told to return to the courtroom for the verdict. We included my client, her mother, grandmother, assistant district attorney, the detective and several advocates from the Montgomery Victim’s Services Unit.
Hearts were pounding. The attorneys, detective and defendant sat at their tables. The rest of us were sitting tightly together on a long bench in the galley, holding our breaths and waiting.
And then we heard it: GUILTY!”
It is not every day a person gets to witness true justice.