It is decided that juror number one will be the foreman. Or forewoman, because she’s a girl. “I think its foreperson,” she declares. I don’t know much about her. She was rather quiet the last eight days, only perking up during our breaks when her kids called her cell phone. Her maternal instincts immediately take over. “Okay everyone,” she says, clapping her hands. “Please take a seat- in the order of your juror number- and let’s begin deliberation.” Suddenly, she’s all super official and I’m not sure that I like her.
The Woman Who Won’t Shut the Fuck Up starts in. “Well, what if we-“
“Ah, ah, ah!” Lady Foreperson interrupts. “Not everyone can speak at the same time. If you want to speak, you must be in possession of…” Her eyes scour the table. “Of, um, of…the talking…coffee cup!” The Woman Who Won’t Shut the Fuck Up looks pissed. I take it back. I love this super official Lady Foreperson.
She systematically goes down the list of questions and we each answer. Surprisingly, our answers are unanimous. We all agree and I don’t have to follow Mavis’ lead.
It’s funny. The accident happened in 2004 and the plaintiff sued the MTA shortly thereafter. For nine years, the plaintiff has been dealing with her injury, her job, her lawyer, the court and God knows what else. For nine years, she’s worried, fretted, lost sleep and cried. For nine years, she’s waited, anticipated, and hoped. We’ve been in court for eight exhausting days, listening to testimony after testimony, reviewing, understanding, deciding, surmising and judging.
And in the end, the verdict was decided upon in less than five minutes.
We renter the court room and it is just as it is on television. The judge formally asks us if we’ve arrived at a verdict. Lady Foreperson stands, and as if she’s done this a thousand times, says, “Yes, your honor, we have.”
The court reporter comes to the jury box to collect the verdict paperwork from the Officer Lucky. There is so much tension in the air and I realize I have a lump in my throat. I nervously eye the lawyers and the plaintiff, who is visibly shaking. The court reporter reads the verdict out loud, with his lisp in full effect. “In the cath of Thirano verthuth the New York Metropolitan Tranthit Authority, the court rulth in favor of the plaintiff.”
The plaintiff loudly sighs with relief and smiles wide. My eyes dart over to the defense attorney. Defeat is not registering on his face at all. It’s as if he knew ahead of time, like the American Music Awards or something.
The judge begins to ramble, thanking us for our time, telling us how important serving jury duty is to the system. I’m honestly so relieved that it is over. I can’t wait to go home, go to bed and get up in the morning and go to work. We all smile as we exit the court room and the plaintiff practically bows when she thanks us.
We are excused and Officer Lucky escorts us to our jury room to collect our belongings. I turn to say good bye to my fellow jury members. “What a journey it has been,” I intend to exclaim. “Perhaps we should stay in touch? Does anyone want to go for a post-verdict cocktail?” I want to ask. Instead, they are all leaving. The Woman Who Won’t Shut the Fuck Up is already out the door, as is the Puerto Rican model and Mavis.
I sigh and meander down the cavernous hall alone and make my way to the grand stairs in front of the building. There are no news crews waiting to interview me. Just a hot dog cart and a homeless man asking for a quarter. And as I walk down the street, my iPhone vibrates with a new message. It’s The Gawker, asking if he can buy me a cup of that shitty coffee from the store in the lobby.