Monday, 2/25/13, 3 p.m. - The room can be cheerless, the seating uncomfortable and the acoustics agonizing, but sitting through court hearings and trials has been one of the more rewarding parts of the job.
It’s in the courtroom where we, as a society, apply law and regulate action.
It’s where we, as a community, mete out justice and, at times, witness injustice.
It’s where we, as human beings, hold high the belief in our ability to govern ourselves and, in doing so, improve ourselves.
And it can be messy.
You see mistrials, missteps and misstatements.
You see heartbreak take the stand and heartlessness defined through testimony.
You see a group of carefully selected men and women charged with deciding the fate of another person.
And it’s nothing like TV.
You hear opening statements and closing arguments bookend witness questioning that can last for days.
You hear objections, requests, expert opinions, DNA analysis, psychological evaluations, judgments, whispers, verdicts, sentencings, and sobs.
You hear logic – the kind you try to master when debating friends.
All this process, all this time to try and get it right: guilty or not guilty.
You feel confused because you might see the holes the defense attorney managed to punch into the prosecutor’s story.
You feel grateful that you’re not the defendant quietly watching this all play out knowing your life hangs in the balance.
You feel for the families and victims, whose lives likely have already been permanently scarred by some heinous act.
But, most of all, you feel proud to live in a country where every citizen gets his or her day in court and where, if there’s been a miscarriage of justice, there’s an avenue through which to appeal.
This is what you get when you take some time and sit yourself down on that wooden bench to watch and listen.