Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The End of the Innocence

"Everybody's innocent in here. Didn't you know that?”
                                          ~ Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

I’ve been called for jury duty and will find out later this week whether or not I have to serve. I not averse to serving, but now is not the best time, so I’m trying to figure out how to get out of it. I thought I might say that my personal mantra is “Hang ‘em high” and see where that gets me.
Seriously though, thinking about jury duty takes me back….
When I interviewed for what would later become my job as a general assignment reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY, I was asked if I had any court reporting experience.
Let me stipulate (Woohoo! Check out that legalese!) that by court reporting, I do not mean stenography. 
I have a cousin who is a “court reporter,” but trust me, she wasn't nearly as lucky as me. I got to hang out with the scum of the earth. Aren't you jealous? 
But I digress….
Prior to joining the Gazette staff, I’d had limited legal reporting experience, but what few stories I’d written for my weekly paper had been significant. Towards the end of a highly publicized murder trial in which the defendant was a police officer, I filled in for our court reporter who was very pregnant. It was decided that there was enough drama in the courtroom without Alice going into labor, so I was sent to cover closing arguments, the verdict (guilty!) and the sentencing.
For someone who’d been hooked on “Law & Order” forever (and still is), it was very exciting. 
Those stories helped secure me the assignment of covering the courts when I moved to the daily paper. In addition, I went to the county jail every day to check the arrest log to see if there were any interesting cases to write up.
For security’s sake, to get into the jail from the parking lot, you had to cross a wide courtyard before reaching the front door.
Now, it stands to reason that in the course of about two years covering the jail, which was run by the sheriff’s office, I got to know some the deputies who worked there rather well.
One day, I was crossing the courtyard when one of my more “favorite” deputies came out of the building and began walking towards me. Thinking I was being clever (You really think he hadn't heard this one before?), I said, “I didn't do it!”
The joke was on me….
The deputy looked at me with amusement and frustration and said, “Y’know, Daphne, just once I wish someone would say, ‘I did do it!’”

Written for The Writers’ Post Weekly Blog Hop #25. Theme: Innocence


  1. A court reporter! That could be exciting, dangerous and maybe a little creepy all at the same time. Would depend on how 'active' your courthouse is, I suppose.
    Around here, one would only get a few stories in a year, unless they sort of developed one by interviewing what might appear to be an ordinary arrest victim.

  2. Wow! You have an awesome job! I can only imagine the stories you hear.

    So true..."Your honor, I'm guilty and I did it!"

    Thanks for a peek into your life.

  3. I was called to jury duty once. For a very ugly murder trial involving 5 defendants. I was let go due to was going to be a very long trial and I would have lost my job if I had been picked. However, if my job was reporting about court cases, that might have been interesting. Thanks for sharing and keep us posted!