Last week was big for me: I did my first jury trial in a wheelchair. It’s crazy that I’ve been in a wheelchair for 2.5 years and it was my first one. I say it’s because I am really good at pleading out cases (which is true). But, I’ve also been hesitant. The ones that I knew for sure were going to trial I was kind of pushing off. And then the ones that I wanted to go to trial sooner ended up getting pushed for reasons beyond my control. Such is the chaos that is the legal profession.
But last week, a case was ready, and away we went. I was nervous. Not for the case. I felt as prepared as possible for that. I had a whole other set of worries. Would the jury be preoccupied with my wheelchair to listen to my arguments? How was I going to take notes and address them at the same time? I can’t use the podium because they’re wooden and set to a standing person’s height. Not very wheelchair user friendly. And things like standing as a way to show respect to the judge or jury. Those were out the window. Would they understand that I was still trying to be respectful? Before my so called wheeled life, I would stand every time I addressed the judge. And I would stand when asking questions. It was professional.
But, I pushed all that aside so I wouldn’t be distracted from the main goal: winning. The jury didn’t seem to react outwardly to my wheelchair. They seemed to be focusing on the facts, which is exactly right. Though, in my closing arguments, my investigator said a few of them were watching intrigued as I put my pointer and whatnot in my cup holder (I call it my “holster”). Apparently they thought that was clever. I hope they’re as amused by my arguments as they were by my cup holder.
Overall, it wasn’t that different from when I was walking.
-Couldn’t stand for the jury or judge
-Couldn’t use the podium
-Couldn’t bring in my normal wheelie bag to carry all my stuff, so I was limited on what I could bring in. I have some big cases coming up with way more files. I’m going to have to figure something else out.
I love my job and I’m doing it. Nothing can stop me.
Ladies and gentlemen, the positives win. Now I go back to waiting for my jury to return a verdict.
P.S. Shout out to the hubs who taught me the difference between an ax and a hatchet. There was one involved in this case and that was actually a pretty big difference. I was able to educate the judge and DA. So, thanks hubs!