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The Verdict Must Be Published

Written from the judge's perspective

By Lana V LynxPublished 20 days ago 3 min read
8
The Verdict Must Be Published
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

“Order in the court!” is a cue for me to leave my chambers. As I enter the courtroom, everyone is standing up as they should. Over two hundred and fifty years of history and court decorum. I take the judge’s seat. My judge’s seat. My dad would be proud.

“Be seated!” the bailiff says loudly. His voice carries to every corner of the large room. I glance over and notice that the victim is getting pale, holding her abdomen. I hope she is OK. The defendant is not looking at anyone, hiding his eyes. I so wish for this case to end in a just punishment. It’s getting better in recent years, but there are still cases where violent domestic abusers get softer punishments than they deserve. I hope this is not the case here: the defendant killed his own son who tried to protect his mother during his father’s violent outburst. He hasn’t shown much remorse or repentance.

The courtroom becomes so quiet I can hear the court stenographer lightly touching the typewriter keys. She is not typing anything yet.

“I understand the jury has reached the verdict. You may bring the jury,” I say to the bailiff who lets the jury members in, quickly taking their seats. They probably want to be done with this as quickly as possible as well.

While the jurors are taking their seats, the defendant turns to his lawyer and mumbles something quietly. Before I decide whether to tell him to stay quiet, he turns away from the lawyer and whispers something under his nose. I’m sure something expressing his contempt. I just want to move on.

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

She obliges, holding the court paperwork in her right hand. I can’t see that far, but I hope it’s a verdict, not a mistrial.

“Have you reached the verdict?”

“Yes, your honor, we have.”

Good. Keep your face straight, I remind myself.

“Is it unanimous?”

“Yes, your honor.”

I’m doing everything by the book of the court procedure. I’m glad we will be out of here soon, but I still have to follow the rules, so I instruct the forelady, “Alright, please pass it to the clerk who will pass it to me. And you may be seated.”

The papers are quickly passed to me. I look at them and see the verdict. I cannot show it in my face, though, so I impartially shuffle the papers, studying them. The paperwork is impeccable. The entire procedure must have taken only about half a minute, but I’m sure it feels like eternity for everyone else. Funny how the time gets suspended in crucial life moments.

“Defendant will rise,” I say as calmly as possible and wait for him and his lawyer to stand up. He gets up slowly and stands tall, obviously to assert his dominance, but doesn’t look me in the eye. I’ve seen so many of these violent domestic offenders that I can easily imagine what runs through his mind. He’s so misogynistic that he is probably estimating how long it would take him to leap at me and strangle me in front of everyone. I’m grateful for the bailiff and his gun.

“Madam clerk, would you please publish the verdict, starting with the first page,” I instruct Linda. She hates it, but I like to throw this responsibility onto her.

Linda, my court clerk of 25 years, starts reading the verdict out loud. She cites the docket number, followed by the case references and charges. I am listening to see if she stumbles or makes any mistakes. She does, but only a couple of times.

Finally, we all hear, “On the charges of aggravated assault and second-degree murder – ‘Guilty’ verdict.” Many in the room gasp quietly, without making a sound, trying to keep the court decorum. The defendant keeps his stone face, looking down.

I see the victim collapsing into her sister’s arms. It must be a huge relief for her. I force myself not to think about what the defendant is thinking. I specify the sentencing procedure and thank the jury for their service.

We can now all go home. Except for the defendant, who will be locked up, 25 to 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 (8)

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  • Hannah Moore20 days ago

    Excellent. It's a weird mix of power and impotence for the judge I guess!

  • "She hates it, but I like to throw this responsibility onto her." Hahahahahhahaha that made me laugh!

  • Shirley Belk20 days ago

    I am currently on a grand jury 6 month assignment. (Jan-June) Had one case to decide on the first day we were selected. On call if any more cases arise.

  • Lamar Wiggins20 days ago

    Very suspenseful. I also enjoyed the judge's point of view. I'm sure it's hard for them not to take things personal at times. Innocent until proven guilty is the way of the law but we all know when someone is guilty. The trial is just a formality in those occasions. A waste of taxpayers' money.

  • Kendall Defoe 20 days ago

    I was almost on a jury, and we were dismissed at the last minute. I am not sure I ever want to have this much power over a life.

  • It must be hard to be a judge in a situation like this, seeing the "type" and all the characteristics, but unable to make the call yourself. Well done Lana!

  • Fascinating! Great work!

  • Very well written. The way you built the story kept me in suspense to the end.

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