aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Research is a good thing

This morning I watched federal court proceedings as they tried to seat a jury for a drug conspiracy trial. I had been kind of anxious about going - I've never sat in a courtroom before, I didn't know if I could use my laptop (short answer - no, too noisy), and even taking the bus was kind of intimidating (I rode the bus every day for years, but that was a long time ago).

Still, that kind of in-person research is different than reading, talking to people, watching a documentary, or watching the TV version. I got there early, so I got to see that one lawyer had brought shoes and socks for her client. And there were several security type people, maybe US Marshalls - huge guys with big hands who looked like Central Casting had sent them over for the part of "the heavy." Once the jurors were ushered in, the courtroom was super crowded. They brought in 157 jurors and probably 35 started out standing. And you know how you should appeal to the senses when you write? One not very appealing sense was that the room smelled like unwashed bodies and unbrushed teeth. One of my characters is pregnant, so I know she'll notice - your sense of smell is magnified during pregnancy. What I saw was different than what I had imagined or what I had heard from talking to lawyers, so I am very glad I went.

Oh, and let's see - if you want to get out of a four-week trial? Have airline tickets purchased. Work on commission. Be the sole childcare provider with no options. Own your own business. Have a wife who is due next week, or a husband who is undergoing major surgery. It took 2 hours just to find 51 people who could even sit for further questions.

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