Sketch by sketch artist Bill Robles
Trial(s) of Life
I’ve been wanting to share this story with all of you for a while now…so, here goes.
Recently, I was summoned for jury duty. During my lifetime so far, I’ve been called 4 times including this one…but I had never made it into a courtroom. I felt this time was going to be different.
Before I showed up Monday morning at the courthouse, I already had an instinctive “knowing” that I would be called into a courtroom and would sit on a jury. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I figured that after being called this many times, I was “due” or maybe it was just one of those instincts you get…you just “know”.
An hour and a half after arriving, I was called up into a courtroom on the 3rd floor. This was my absolute first time being in an actual courtroom. I was a bit nervous. This was a criminal case.
They called up 12 potential jurors to the box and before doing so, the attorneys and the defendant all turned around individually and introduced themselves and said “Good Morning” to us.
The defendant’s last name? None other than….Jackson!
I couldn’t believe it. From the moment I walked into the courtroom I had felt that I would sit on this jury and I just had vibes about this defendant, that he was innocent. I don’t know why I felt that way or why I knew I would be on that case, but I did. This was before I even knew his last name. Just from my initial feel of walking into the room and seeing the defendant. Call it a vibe, a feeling, an inner knowing. I had no idea at this point what he had been charged with.
Immediately, I felt there was a deeper purpose here and I then felt certain I would sit on this jury. Throughout the questioning process I kept feeling a sense that I would sit in that jury box and be questioned and that the Reflections website would come up in that line of questioning. It seemed odd, other than that I am a writer and felt the attorneys may ask me about that. I just sat in anticipation, wondering whether my gut feelings would be correct or if I was just blowing mental steam.
They dismissed a lot of potential jurors. There were still about 10 of us left sitting there from the jury pool they had originally called up. At this point, I was beginning to doubt my feelings…maybe I was wrong. I’d been sitting there for several hours already and they had dismissed many. Now, they were looking for an alternate juror. The first guy they called up seemed a shoe-in, until a question came up that changed the course of direction. They dismissed him. As soon as they did that, I just KNEW they would say my name next…and, they did.
In viewing this photo, taken of Courtroom #8 a day before Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial jury selection, I am having an “OH MY GOD” kind of a moment. If I told you just HOW similar this courtroom is to the one I sat in…placement of the jury box, judge’s bench, the lecture box where the state makes their case/questions the witnesses, etc, including the emblem on the wall behind the judge and the lighting used in the courtroom, you would be shocked. The courtroom looks nearly identical. The seating for those in attendance is different, but that is one of the very few differences. Now, once again, I’ve not been in a courtroom before, but have seen some on television and in photos and I am aware that not all of them look like this one. I am in awe right now. WOW! It actually brings me back to being in that courtroom.
This next thing could only happen to me LOL…I proceeded to get up off the bench I was seated on, grabbed my purse, coat, books and notebook and headed toward the jury box…when all of a sudden, my pen FLEW out of my notebook, nearly hitting the defendant LOL and fell on the ground right NEXT TO the defendant. I had to bend down right next to him and say “I’m sorry”, pick up my pen while he was looking right at me, shocked, and regroup myself to walk up all alone and sit in this jury box all ALONE to be questioned. The rest of the jury had already been chosen and had been taken back to the jury room.
I was pretty sure at this point that my clumsiness probably took me right out of the running and that I would be dismissed pretty quickly. So much for intuition!
Looking back on that moment now, I definitely feel that I was meant to look in that defendant’s eyes, and he in mine. What I had initially thought was a flub, was, to my belief, God at work.
I was questioned first by the judge, then the state and then the defendant’s attorney. Once I got to the defendant’s attorney, she asked me about being a writer (You have to put down your job on the questionnaire you fill out). She asked what kind of writing I do and I said mainly entertainment. Then, she asked me that in dealing with celebrities, I must have to deal with all of the lies and untruths that come against them. I couldn’t believe it….my instinct was right!
At this point, I mentioned to her that on a more regular basis, I don’t deal too much with that, in that I interview them about their performances, music, influences, etc., but that I felt I should tell the court that I do happen to run a Michael Jackson website which deals with this exact issue and tells the truth about him rather than what most people hear.
The courtroom got completely silent and then the defense attorney just said “WOW!” She seemed to want to know more and asked a few more questions, including if I felt that what I do would interfere with my decision making on this case and if I had come to definite conclusion in creating the site and had taken a position on it and what it stood for, and I told her I had. She liked my answers and they accepted me.
At this point, the bailiff took me back to the jury room with the other jurors and as soon as we got into the back hallway….this bailiff said to me “I need to get that website!” I gave him one of my business cards with the site on it 🙂 Working in the legal system himself, he was impressed when I told him I had interviewed Tom Mesereau, and he wanted to know more. God again, was at work here.
I could not believe that the instinctive feeling I had that I would sit on a jury, then when I got into that room, that I would sit on that particular jury before I even knew the case or the defendant’s last name, and that I would be bringing up the website to the court, had all already come to pass. It was amazing and I just kept thinking about how amazing it is to see God work.
We were taken in to start hearing the case and after a bit, were released on a lunch break. Once we got back, things got even more interesting.
There were several witnesses that testified and when the arresting officer came up and stated his name…I couldn’t believe it! His last name matched that of one of the people who has seemingly made a career out of lying about me. (Standing up for what you believe brings with it it’s own barrage of haters). Could this just all be coincidence?
I was in a trial where the defendant’s name was Jackson, the arresting officer had the same last name as someone who has viciously and wrongly attacked me in the past, I did not believe this man was guilty, and did I mention that there was not one African American seated on the jury and that the defendant was African American? In Michael’s trial, one African American was among the alternate jurors. It was crazy.
The jury that sat on the Michael Jackson 2005 Trial
This man, the arresting officer, had put the defendant in cuffs and apprehended him and I believe falsely accused him…it was metaphorical…The person with the same last name as this officer has falsely accused me…and Michael was falsely accused…it gave me the chills to be honest with all of you.
I don’t want to go too much into the case, but I spent a lot of time those 2 days really watching in detail the judge, the witnesses, the attorneys, the defendant, the defendant’s family seated in the courtroom (and the sadness on his mother’s face reminded me of Mrs. Katherine Jackson in some ways). I so many times felt like crying. I kept praying to God as I sat in that jury box to please reach out to these people and help them turn their lives around and to be surrounded by His love, so that they would not be in this kind of situation any longer. My heart just bled.
Despite my earlier feelings that this defendant was innocent, I went in fully prepared to listen to all of the arguments and if at any time, I felt they provided evidence that he was guilty, I knew that it was my duty to find him guilty. But as the case went on, I fully realized that my initial gut feelings were accurate…those same feelings I felt from the moment I walked into the courtroom.
In watching the defendant, I really came to feel that he was innocent even more so and the testimony and lack of evidence just cemented that for me…the state had no case and they had nothing to connect this man to the crime (sound familiar?), but, I had no input into the final case because as an alternate, I had to leave at the end of closing arguments as all jurors were present.
I was presented a certificate and went out into the hallway and just let out a sigh. I called my husband.
While on the phone, a man I believe was possibly the defendant’s brother came out of the courtroom and looked and me and smiled on his way to the bathroom. I smiled back. I was hoping so badly that they could feel the love of God inside of me and that it would reach out to them. I had felt so much love and sadness the entire time I was in that courtroom and I just hoped that it would ooze out of me somehow and was evident. I kept thinking about Michael and how people could feel that eminating from him and I kept praying that somehow, that same kind of love would eminate from me. I don’t mean that in any other way than that it is my belief, that all of us who have faith, can eminate love from our hearts, the love that God has for us can pour out of us onto others. I think that as Christians and human beings, if we all eminated God’s love, it would touch others and change their lives. I felt nothing but love and compassion for this defendant and his family. I believe there was a reason for that. One of the witnesses was pretty rough and I prayed for him as well.
Throughout, I felt the state had no case against the defendant as they could not connect him in any plausible, without-a-doubt evidence, to the crime. But, he had had a prior conviction and he obviously hung out with a tough crowd and was in a lifestyle (or had been in a lifestyle) that had led him to being in the wrong place at the wrong time and in a situation that led him to being in that courtroom that day. That may all have turned around since it took nearly a year for this case to come to trial, but I had no way of knowing. All I had were the faces of his family, the defendant’s face and eyes and mannerisms, which to me spoke innocence, and my gut feelings that I felt were coming from God. My only prayer was that God would bring him out of that lifestyle if he hadn’t done so already and that everyone in that courtroom would be touched by the love of God. I wanted so badly to reach out to the defendant and all in that courtroom and I could only hope that they felt that coming from me….a reassurance that God loved them.
After all of this, I went to my car to drive home and just bawled my eyes out until I got home. It had been such a highly emotional, exhausting experience and I could not get any of the people out of my mind…the people I served with, the judge, the attorneys and especially the defendant. I had done my part, I had listened and prayed. I wanted so badly to have input into the outcome of the trial, but it wasn’t to be…so I prayed some more.
I began to think of something else that really struck me. The courtroom. Court #313. If you add those numbers together…what do you get? The number 7!!! Seven is God’s perfect number and the number of completion. It was also Michael Jackson’s favorite number. Again, with God, there are no coincidences and I believe fully that I was destined to serve on that jury, to be in that courtroom, to speak about the site, to make brief contact with the defendant. There was a deeper reason there. I think if most of us look at our lives more closely, we will start to see that this kind of thing happens all around us. God is there.
The day after the trial, the bailiff called and left a message that the jury had found him “Not Guilty” on both counts and again, I felt so much joy and was shouting out in my head praises to God (I was in the dentist office at the time so I couldn’t go too crazy, LOL). I felt like shedding tears of joy. I knew that God had orchestrated this for His purposes.
I am so proud of that group of people I served with because they saw to it that justice was done also. I had no idea what any of them thought as we were not allowed to discuss the case until deliberation, and being an alternate, I was not allowed to deliberate and render a verdict. All I could do was pray that they too saw what I saw in that case and the lack of evidence, and the look on that defendant’s face.
It was truly life-changing and honestly, there was a reason I was there and that I served on that exact trial. With God, there are no coincidences. I think it was to affect my life, as well as touch others’ lives…definitely those in the courtroom and the bailiff who got to hear about the site (and the truth about MJ), and hopefully the defendant as well.
Information on the Accusations against Michael Jackson and the 2005 Trial:
Tom Mesereau, Aphrodite Jones, Geraldine Hughes & Larry Nimmer