My Mother the Juror

My mother served on a petit jury when she was 75 and had the time of her life. It was an excuse to dress up for court; the jurors exchanged pictures of their children or grandchildren and brought in food to share on Fridays. They stayed in touch for years afterwards.

One day, she sent a letter to the judge asking for a day off so she could see her oncologist. She included a package of candy in the envelope with the note, “I hear you like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.” The judge put the request on the record, granted her request and said, “unless anyone has an objection, I’m keeping the candy.”

In opening statements, the prosecutor painted a lurid picture of stolen money, boob jobs and strippers. Unfortunately, the first witness was a records custodian from BellSouth. My mother said that all men on the jury jockeyed for position since they thought the witness was one of the strippers. Poor girl.

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge read out the standard admonition to the parties telling them not to approach or bother jurors. He told the jurors they were under no obligation to speak to the parties about the case. There was a codefendant in the case; he was found not guilty. My mother went out into the hallway, cornered him, and shaking her finger at the “not guilty” man told him, “Buddy, you got a break. Don’t do it again.”

The trial took place in the West Palm Beach Division of the U.S. District Court, the same division—and perhaps the same courthouse at 301 Clematis Street—where Donald Trump is to be tried this fall.

Expect anything.