May 24, 2018
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Have sympathy for jurors who endure being watched as they watch sex videos

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

Someone close to me got her very first jury notice in the mail this week.

She didn’t seem terribly excited.

I said, “How fun. Take a lot of crossword puzzles, your Kindle and a healthy dose of patience with you and hope you get selected to hear an interesting case.”

The largest majority of those summoned to jury duty spend most of their time filing in and out of courtrooms for questioning by attorneys, sitting and waiting as legal details are hammered out by attorneys and judges, making small talk with other jurors as you sit packed into small rooms waiting for jury pools to be chosen, and knitting, doing crossword puzzles and reading.

Some are praying they escape selection, while others, enamored with the legal process and perhaps with images from Law and Order in their heads, hold out hope they may make the cut. Most of those will probably end up somewhat disappointed when they learn they have been empaneled on a less-than-interesting drunken driving case.

I did my civic duty many years ago and was selected for such a drunken driving case. The trial lasted about 30 minutes. The arresting officer was the only witness and we deliberated for about 15 minutes before finding the defendant guilty.

That was just about right.

Having covered countless trials over my career I have at times felt bad for some jurors chosen to hear brutal murder cases and devastating child abuse cases. Ordinary folks plucked randomly from a pool of peers from their county to hear and see disturbing testimony and photos that will most likely linger with them forever.

But I must say in all my years of watching jurors doing their best to do their important civic duty and do it well, I have never felt quite as much compassion as I do for those poor souls who are lined up in that jury box in the York County Superior Court.

Those jurors, of course, are hearing the case against Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston who is charged with 12 counts of promotion of prostitution. The alleged prostitute, Alexis Wright, is scheduled to go on trial in May.

There is a lot of visual evidence and so far a lot of legal arguing about just how much of it the jurors must be subjected to in order to judiciously do their jobs.

On Thursday, they watched a 45-minute video allegedly of Wright having sex with a man who then left her a pile of cash on a table.

Now, porn fan or not, I cannot believe there could be a more uncomfortable situation than watching a 45-minute sex video in the light of day in a courtroom surrounded by a bunch of strangers, including a judge, attorneys and a whole pile of reporters who most certainly have their eyes on you as you watch.

So I’ll say it, because no one else will, but one must imagine that it has to be most concerning for the men in the bunch.

Scott Dolan of the Portland Press Herald was watching.

“During the 45 minutes of video Thursday, jurors showed little reaction. Some frowned, one rocked in his chair and another looked down and away from his screen for short periods of time before looking back at the screen. Trial judge Justice Nancy Mills divided her attention as the video played, looking at the jurors, documents on the bench and at the screen,” he wrote.

“Please just kill me now,” is what I’d be thinking.

So for my soon-to-be potential juror and for all of the rest of you who found that letter seeking your service in your mailboxes this week — take heart, for no matter how boring, no matter how difficult the parking, no matter how disruptive to your life I can almost guarantee that your duty will be far less uncomfortable than it is for those poor folks in that York County courthouse who don’t have the luxury of hitting the stop button.

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