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Publishing the Verdict

Verdict in a Minute, from the court clerk's perspective

By Lana V LynxPublished 18 days ago Updated 13 days ago 3 min read
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Publishing the Verdict
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

“Order in the court!” Darrell says loudly. Darrell is our distinguished bailiff who has served in this court for as long as I’ve been here, which is 23 years this summer. We are on a first-name basis outside of the work hours and the court officialdom. As our judge enters the courtroom, everyone is standing up as they should. I know her for over 20 years as well, but I would never dare to call her Sophia. Court decorum, even though we are on good terms. Friends? Not exactly, she keeps her professional distance but always treats me fairly and with kindness.

The judge takes her seat.

“Be seated!” Darrell says loudly again. His voice carries across the large room. I’m seated at a desk next to the stenographer, at the foot of the judge’s bench and can see the entire room. I glance over and notice that the victim is getting pale, nursing her abdomen area where she was stabbed. I can’t even imagine what goes through that poor woman’s mind. She has lost her son in the attack by her abusive husband, on trial here.

The defendant is hiding his eyes, looking down. The courtroom becomes so quiet I can hear someone in the room fidgeting.

“I understand the jury has reached the verdict. You may bring the jury,” the judge says to Darrell. He lets the jurors in, and they quickly take their seats. They probably want to get out of here as quickly as possible.

While the jurors are filing in, the defendant turns and whispers something to his lawyer. The judge usually cuts such behavior right away, but before she does the defendant turns away from the lawyer and whispers something to himself. The only thing I can hear clearly, is “the worst lawyer ever” and “off the hook.” You are not getting off this hook, buddy. You are a murderer, and because the jurors came back so quickly it seems they think so too.

Once the jury is seated, the judge asks, “Madam Forelady, would you stand for me?”

She obliges, holding the court paperwork in her right hand. That’s the job for me, if the judge goes by the book, which she always does.

“Have you reached the verdict?”

“Yes, your honor, we have.”

Great, we’ll be out of here soon. Now I need to be ready for my part.

“Is it unanimous?”

“Yes, your honor.”

“Alright, please pass it to the clerk who will pass it to me. And you may be seated.”

The Forelady gives me the papers and I quickly hand them over to the judge. I can tell she saw the verdict right away, but she is too professional to show any emotion. The judge shuffles through the paperwork and finds it in order. It cannot be any other way, after the thorough briefing the jurors were given before the deliberation.

We’ve been in the courtroom for only about half a minute, but I’m sure it feels like eternity for many in the room. Especially for the defendant and his victim.

“Defendant will rise,” the judge says calmly and waits for him and his lawyer to stand up. He gets up slowly, almost defiantly, and stands tall. Still looking down.

“Madam clerk, would you please publish the verdict, starting with the first page,” the judge says to me. This is the moment I dread. Sophia always does this to me, knowing full well that I have a paralizing fear of speaking in public. She thinks it builds my character and gives me something to do during the trial. Like I have nothing else to do!

I take the papers from her and start reading the verdict out loud. I cite the docket number, followed by the case reference. I stumble and make a mistake in the defendant’s last name, even though I heard it here like a million times. I make another mistake on a long word. I list the charges with no mistakes and try to concentrate on the words. I read them out on auto pilot.

Finally, I get to, “On the charges of aggravated assault and second-degree murder – ‘Guilty’ verdict.” I hear quiet gasps. I wish I could look at the defendant’s face, but the court decorum tells me to stay professional. I return the papers to the judge.

I see the victim sobbing in her sister’s arms. Poor woman, it must be a huge relief for her. I hear the judge specifying the sentencing procedure and thanking the jury for their service.

It’s all done, the case is over. We are all free to go. Except for the defendant, who, hopefully, will be locked up for life.

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About the Creator

Lana V Lynx

Avid reader and occasional writer of satire and short fiction. For my own sanity and security, I write under a pen name. My books: Moscow Calling - 2017 and President & Psychiatrist

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Comments (4)

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  • Hannah Moore18 days ago

    They're all pretty united so far, and I'm with them.

  • Lol, imagine if she said, "You do it, Sophia!" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Andrea Corwin 18 days ago

    Yay for justice! Nice job!!

  • Nice work! 😀

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