6-years, 9-months, 15-days into Samantha’s abduction

child abduction, left behind parent, Mexican judicial system, parental abduction, parental alienation, parental child abduction playbook, parental kidnapping, Adriana Coronel Tenorio, Adriana Howitt Coronel, Ari Coronel, Ari Coronel Tenorio, Ari Howitt, Ari Howitt Coronel, jury duty, Mexico, Supreme Court, United States

Tuesday, August 25, 2015: Jury duty. This is what makes our system of justice in the United States so unique from any other country on the planet. In the United States, one is presumed innocent until proven guilty of a crime. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove a crime took place and the accused is without a doubt, guilty. Completely opposite of what Mexico does.

So, jury duty. Unlike Mexico, people in the United States can choose to go to trial and be judged by select members of the community. People from all walks of life, income, ages, ethnic backgrounds, etc. The United States does not discriminate as to who can serve on a jury. This is not a perfect system, but it works very very well. I used to think this was nothing more than an inconvenience, no doubt. I took it for granted as do most people. However, it is a right of being a citizen of the United States. Much like voting. When I got called to serve on a jury this time around, I took the responsibility seriously. By that I mean if I am picked, then so be it. I decided I was not going to try and game the system by coming up with excuses as to why I could not serve. Most cases do not last more than 3 days. Once you serve, it’s a long time before they come looking for you again. After all there are 20+ million people in the Los Angeles area to choose from.

Most of the time the courts summon you for jury duty, you will never see a court room. I have been summoned several times and never had to serve on a jury, until today. I have to say, I was impressed at the efficiency in which this particular court operates this process. To start we sit in a large comfortable room for potential jurors to sit. It has WI-FI, movies playing. Anything needed to conduct your day while waiting to see if your name will be called for a case. It even has a cafeteria loaded with food. So, here I am. They started to call names for their first case that is expected to last until September 24. That’s a long time to be a juror and be away from work. I dodged this bullet after the announcement came that they had all the people for this jury pool.

After 30 minutes or so later, my name gets called for a criminal case that is expected to last only until Friday. I am assigned a court room and off I go with 50-something other potential jurors. The court has to bring this 50-something group down to 12 jurors and 2 alternate jurors. The alternates are used in case something happens to any of the others. Not everyone of this 50 will be called. And wouldn’t you know it, I was one of the first. Of the 50, 21 get called for further screening until both the prosecution and defense are satisfied with the 14 jurors needed for this case.

The attorney for the defense asked me some very specific questions about our situation in Mexico. His client, the man on trial, is of Mexican descent. After he gave his condolences to the situation and wished us well moving forward, he noted that he feared my experiences down in Mexico could prejudice my judgement regarding his client. I thanked him for the kind words regarding our case and that I understood his concerns. At the same time, I mentioned that if he already did his homework on my situation then they already knew about our judicial success in Mexico from local to state and the Supreme Court. I mentioned the hundreds of people that came out of the woodwork in Mexico to help us. That I have no problem with Mexico what-so-ever. Just Adriana Coronel Tenorio (AKA Adriana Howitt Coronel, Ari Coronel, Ari Coronel Tenorio, Ari Howitt, Ari Howitt Coronel) and what she has done and continues to do. The judge chimed in and felt that my experience with the culture and the disparities in the systems could actually be a big help to the case. That and I was 1 of 14 people on the jury. Nothing the judge heard from me during the screening process lead him to believe I was unreasonable. The prosecution and defense agreed in the end. Any objection on their part meant I would have been dismissed.

From there, the judge set the expectation that the rest of the process could take all day. However, we were done by 12:30 and sent home for the rest of the day. The trial will start tomorrow. I realized why there is a few weeks between being summoned for jury duty and the time we were sitting in the court room today. The prosecution and the defense had both done their homework on the jury pool. They knew quite a bit about at least 1/2 of the people in that room. Things that could jeopardize the case. This is the process where they sort all that out. I never had a reason to think about that process until today. Impressive.

While I cannot get into the specifics of the case until it’s over, I can tell you the case involves a man who is charged with some pretty serious crimes: carjacking, burglary, vandalism, giving false identity to police, resisting arrest. Just to name a few. Now remember, this man is presumed innocent until proven guilty in the United States. He sits in front of me as an innocent man until we sort through the facts on this case that will either prove he is innocent or guilty. The prosecution made the guy a deal to keep this case out of court and perhaps give him less time in prison. The guy refused and decided to go to trial instead. It’s a risk if he is guilty because he is looking at spending 20-25 years in prison. However if he is indeed not guilty, he will walk out the front door with the rest of us.

As we adjourn for the day, I am left wondering how a case of this magnitude and the seriousness of the charges can be heard and deliberated on in the next 3 days. I guess we will find out. One thing is for sure, this guy is getting the full respect of the 14 of us who have to decide his fate. It’s a rite he never would have had if he was on trial in Mexico. I am honored to be part of the process. Until your rights are taken away for no reason, there is no way to really understand that kind of gratitude. And I hope you are never in that position Sam. Although one could argue you are in this position with everything Adriana continues to do to us. I LOVE YOU SAM!

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