Free at Last, Free at Last

My home away from home, good ol’ Stanley Mosk Courthouse

Three weeks and one achy back later, I am free at last. Man, I never thought that would end. You go in for what you think will be one day of sitting on your ass reading a book and wind up in a three week legal debacle. It was actually a fairly interesting process and did have some emotional impact on me. The case was gender discrimination – a female firefighter suing the Los Angeles Fire Department. There were lots of bits and pieces within that general accusation that I don’t need to bore you with, but the interesting part was the verdict. We did not award the plaintiff any money when I’m fairly certain a good part of the jury went into the case kind of assuming some wrongdoing took place (on the part of the LAFD). Everyone hears stories of fire departments being boys’ clubs, and I for one, initially thought, “Ok lady, prove your case and you got my vote. My guess is you won’t have a problem proving anything.” In reality, there was no proof. There was no evidence; no testimony other than hers to corroborate what she was saying. As a woman also working in a male dominated industry, I was all ready to believe her, but in reality, there wasn’t much to believe.

It was a sad story. She got injured and will never be able to do anything active or physical for a living ever again. The fact that her happiness, hopes, and dreams were in the hands of twelve complete strangers kind of bewilders me. What if I was in that same situation? I will say, if this makes anyone feel better about the justice system, that all twelve of us took our responsibility very seriously. Even still, and also in unanimous agreement, we all felt like we were going to puke walking back into the courtroom to read the verdict. Upon hearing that she just wasted a ton of time and money, her face went blank and eyes kind of glazed over looking straight ahead. I thought about her all night. I do think we made the fair and correct decision, but it was a tough thing to do. Anyway, just thought I’d share a little about that experience. Now, it’s back to work.

2 comments to Free at Last, Free at Last

  • Michael S.

    Thanks for your diligent service. As one whose fate once lay in the hands of twelve of his fellow citizens as a civil defendant, I can tell you with certainty that your care and concern meant everything to all parties involved.

    In my case, there was a defense verdict for the two of us. The trial was the most wrenching emotional experience other than the illness of loved ones.

    Go burn some film, confident that you did more for democracy in three weeks of jury duty than in a lifetime of punching chads at the ballot box.

  • nina

    great post Em.