Day Six – The End of an Endless Day

It is about 10:30 PM and we have just gotten out of our first few hours of deliberation. I am exhausted, drained, and wiped out, and it won’t hit me until the next morning when we have to do it all over again.

When the defendant finished his testimony, we were given the closing arguments of both sides, and the video was played again. It is near the end of the day, or so we thought, but the judge sends us into the jury room to order dinner and deliberate. After three aborted attempts (no one believes that Downtown Albany rolls up the sidewalks after 5 PM on a Monday) we finally find a real restaurant and our food arrives.

I think back to one of the first days of the trial, when the lawyer for the defense explained that jury duty for a murder trial was like a marathon. Not that I have ever come close to running a marathon, but I’d guess it is just as grueling. And all the while I still have in my head the gnawing guilt of complaining over something like this when someone is already dead, and someone is still on trial.

After this full day of testimony, closing statements, and judge’s instructions, we are told to deliberate until 10 PM. By that time, we have gotten nowhere, but there is some minor relief in finally being able to talk about what each of us has wanted to talk about since day one. That said, all we seem able to do is talk and release, with only the minutest bit of progress.

I find myself wishing for a more concrete outline for us to follow, some handbook on how to most productively go about this process. We are a room of somewhat powerful personalities, each confident and set in his or her beliefs, and I’m not sure how many of us will be swayed from what we each believe.

By ten o’clock we aren’t even near a verdict. My foolish and insane dreams of a possible five-minute deliberation were dashed hours ago. This will be even harder than I thought. My head hurts. My stomach is unsettled. It is time to depart. The sheriff escorts us to our cars, or in my case the lobby of the hotel where Andy will pick me up. The news crews arrived earlier. Their lights wind high into the night sky, illuminating the front of the court house.

The evening is beautiful, but dark.

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