I am describing my criminal prosecution that took place many years ago. I was innocent.
When the jury said they had a verdict, we were all back in the Courtroom within less than 10 minutes. It had only been a day since the trial concluded, so you second guess if the amount of time they deliberated is somehow an indication of their decision. I didn’t want to think about it one way or another. I was going to find out soon enough.
The jury foreperson stood up and without much fanfare, it came out. Guilty! My attorney asked to poll the jurors. I didn’t care if each juror stood up and said that I was guilty. I didn’t need to hear it. I heard it once and that was enough. Truly it was deafening to me. I didn’t even look up after I heard the one word that was beyond belief.
My attorney was trying to hold it together. Dan looked at me to see if I was in a heap. I was trying so hard not to be. I have never been in such complete disbelief. A big part of me was still relieved to have it over. It didn’t feel like I could sustain this way of thinking and being another moment. Another part of me was completely devastated. I was mute.
Dan kept saying I’m so sorry over and over again. He took it so hard. I couldn’t seem to utter a word. I couldn’t seem to move either. The entire courtroom dismissed and I was left with Dan. Dan didn’t want to be pushy but we needed to leave even if I couldn’t seem to move at all. I had to.
The worst that could happen….being found guilty of a crime I didn’t commit… happened, but I had shifted my paradigm over the years that we had prior to the trial about what was really the worst that could happen.
The worst that could have happened is that I didn’t tell the truth. The worst that could have happened is that I let someone or something else define my character.
I discovered a strength in me that I didn’t know I was capable of. It was truly awesome. Literally, life-changing. I became the person I always wanted to be because I got rid of all the distractions and unworthy parts of my life and focused solely on what was important. I did my best when the stakes were high. All my sacrifices and effort were in my control. The results weren’t.
The jury was wrong and surprisingly I felt bad that they allowed themselves to not carry out their responsibilities the way they were instructed by the Judge to do and agreed to. They would have to live with that. Years prior I remember seeing on the news, jurors that were haunted by not doing the right thing in a trial and never being at peace afterward. If my jurors truly understood and cared what had happened, someday, too late, they might have regrets. Ironically, they might carry the very guilt I refused.
I was alone in every sense of the word. I wanted to be alone. I had to sit in this by myself. My faith was strong. I felt tested and that I had passed regardless of the verdict.
The news spread like wildfire. Local news stations, friends, colleagues, …. well-intentioned calls were coming in for days with obligatory condolences as though a death occurred. It was that solemn. The only real death that had occurred was justice.
How do you recover from devastating news?