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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)

TITLE: Personal Feelings Aside
By CJ Raney


The tension in the room was so thick I could barely breathe. This had to be at the top of my list, for most difficult times in my life. I listened intently as the judge gave his orders. When he dismissed us a slide show flashed through my mind of everything I had seen. The time had come for us to process it all and come to a conclusion.

When the door to the deliberation room closed I felt a burden was now resting on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. The victim’s family has waited five years for justice and now we have to decide if it will happen. Does the other eleven feel the same way, or is it just because I have been elected the foreman?

I leaned against the door, took a deep breath, and watched my fellow jury members. They were all settled at the table with their drinks and notes, staring at me with questioning eyes. We had become like a family over the last few weeks. There were some conflicting personalities, but I really feel we can all come together.

I thought maybe a joke would break the ice. “Okay, let’s vote and go home.” Most everyone responded with, “I wish.” We all knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. This was going to take a lot out of us to make this decision. The family was devastated, the emotional turmoil showed on their faces. We couldn’t concentrate on that now. We had to follow the judge’s order and evaluate the state’s case.

I pulled my chair out and sat. “Well, let’s start with the witness list.” We carefully went through each name eliminating the ones we felt were unreliable. The process took the rest of the day. There were fifty-three of them to examine and vote on. I tried to read everyone’s reaction to get a feel for what they were thinking. I believed the state did an excellent job of proving their case, but did everyone else?

“I think we should think about it over night and vote in the morning. Just so we can get an idea of where we are.” Everyone just nodded their heads. “The next step is the evidence and that will make for a pain staking day. The crime scene photos were hard enough to see the first time around.” We went back to the hotel for the night.

The next morning we assembled in our all too familiar room. “Good morning, everyone. So, what do you think? Should we vote?” We all agreed it might save some time. I gathered the paperwork on the charges. “Let’s go through it charge by charge.”

I was very surprised to find that we were close to being in agreement. I knew that the case was strong but you never know what will happen when twelve people with different backgrounds and lifestyles get together to make a decision. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, when we all decided that the defendant was not innocent.

With seven charges on the table, we had to decide what he was guilty of. We started to discuss the charges and what we thought. This was a long process but I was thankful we were not looking at crime scene photos. We had to leave our personal feelings aside and just look at the law. After a full day, we decided to sleep on our conclusions. We would vote again in the morning before informing the judge.

I went to bed that night at peace with our decision. The evidence was strong and very convincing. I still couldn’t stop thinking about all the lives this one man’s actions affected. It didn’t play into my vote but it weighed heavy on me. It would be a better world, if everyone thought about others instead of themselves. There would definitely be less crime. It is not always an easy thing. God is a perfect example to look at. He put us above everything, when He gave His Son for us. That surely was not an easy task for Him.

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This article has been read 253 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart07/29/11
I like that the MC's emotions are the focal point and not the crime. The conclusion is satisfying with peace for the character.
Brenda Shipman 08/02/11
Great intro, drew me in right away! This was well-written: good descriptions from the MC's perspective, nice breaks with your paragraph divisions, organized, flowed nicely. It felt like you were building up to something, but the transition to your final paragraph (and point) seemed awkward, like you were running close to your word limit so quickly jumped to the main idea. I really like this, just think the ending needs some refining. Good job!
Noel Mitaxa 08/03/11
This is a great first chapter, because I agree that it does seem rushed at the end. You have guided us clearly through much of the tension and emotion of jury duty, but a couple of very minor glitches "Does - read do - the eleven..." and "painstaking" is one word instead of two. Otherwise excellent flow and credibility.