And Justice for Some

I stood there, frozen by what I was seeing. The woman, attempting to run out her front door, screamed for help. The man right behind her, her husband we found out, had a hold of her and was in the process of very probably beating her to death.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I could see someone come streaking in, a younger man, maybe on a bike or a moped, riding right down the sidewalk like some knight in shining armor, straight through the gawking crowd, and running head-on into the man.

The force knocked the man to the ground and freed the woman from his grasp.

Shaken out of that stupor, some people ran to the woman to check on her condition. I would call 911.

I’d never pictured anything like it. I’ve heard stories all my life about how people simply stand by and watch people get killed. My reaction, every time I hear one of these stories, is one of disgust. Why, I ask like a broken record, don’t people step in and help? How can people stand by and not do anything?

Well, my tune changed instantly after having been made a part of an experience like this. One reason people don’t jump right in is that they are stunned into some kind of paralytic stupor. You may see this kind of violence on the screen, maybe even on the news, but when you come face-to-face with it in real life, the shock can turn you to stone. How long it takes you to come out of this state may dictate how soon you’re able to jump in to help.

And then there are those people who will never help. The ones, I suppose, who only do just want to observe. I’m not one of that kind. I do want to help. I would have helped this woman if I could have just made myself start moving.

My mind wandered this way and that. Our jury pool of more than a hundred people had shrunk to just a handful. They needed only one more, the twelfth juror. Then they’d select two alternates. It was still not my turn to be questioned by the attorneys.

It’s always been the same in the jury pools of which I’ve been a part. The longer the selection process goes on, the more pieces of the case are revealed. I’d listened very carefully. I wanted to be chosen. It would give me great pleasure to convict this wife-beater.

He was huge, she was petite. He no longer had access to their children because she’d been granted full custody. Who could argue against that? There’d been multiple restraining orders over time. He’d violated every one of them. The actions of one man, a young man, had probably saved this woman’s life.

Putting the puzzle together, I’d managed to visualize myself as being a part of the horrible scene. What a picture.

That freezing up. You can experience it simply by listening to a brutal tale unfolding. I’d found myself holding my breath after some of the more detailed questions deep in the selection process.

Damn. The last juror had been selected. Now for the alternates. I couldn’t believe they would matter. It didn’t matter. The bailiff never called my number. Maybe six of us walked out of there never having been called to answer questions.

Just my luck. I’d wanted so badly to get on that jury. Sure, you’re innocent until proven guilty. And a juror is supposed to be impartial.

Yeah, I couldn’t get on board with either of those premises. Not for this guy. He’s lucky I was so unlucky in not being chosen.

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