THE EXECUTIONER WITH A PUBLIC FACE
My dad was the jury foreman in the Jodi Arias murder trial.
I am betting that a good portion of you don’t know or care but there is sure a sizable piece of America and beyond that knows now who my dad is—which is to say they know his name and they know he had a chance to help execute a criminal. And they know that on his watch, that criminal was not sentenced to die.
That’s where it ends, of course. The knowledge of my dad. That’s all that all but a statistically negligible percentage of the universe knows about my dad. They don’t know that my dad loved his kids or loved baseball or loves cars or loves golf or loves his grandkids or any of a million things. They don’t know that above all his weaknesses, my dad is an honorable man.
And that’s okay. No one needs to know my dad. I think before this all happened, my dad would have liked to be famous. I’m not speaking for him but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case anymore.
Today I read hate mail my dad had gotten. Some person had sent him a threatening message complete with his email address, full name, and phone number (which at the very least means that this guy should retake Hate Mail 101). I also read some comments on an article online about my dad. Surreal. They say my dad was fooled by the defendant, that he was taken with her, that he hated the prosecutor. But what was most interesting to me is how many people say my dad is a media whore.
Let me explain to you how the media works. I am a media whore. I want nothing more than an open mic, a bully pulpit, a captive audience. But no one cares what I have to say, and therefore the media doesn’t care.
But the world (maybe even you, if you are honest) wants to hear about Jodi Arias. Everything, every lurid detail about her. So when my dad showed up at his own home after the mistrial was declared, the major media were there waiting for him. They spent the night in his home. He chose to speak, but if you all didn’t care, no one would have even had a clue who my dad is. It’s poor form to consume media and at the same time complain about its availability.
One last thing, and then I’ll be done, because thinking about how my dad is suffering makes my heart hurt. A jury gets impaneled once or twice in a generation to oversee a trial like this. That means there are one or maybe two people per generation that know what my dad has just gone through. I would love to hear what their thoughts are. I’m sure my dad would like to decompress with them over cocktails. What that group alone would know, though, is that when you are a juror, you are bound by law to be impartial. What you see and what you are *mandated* to consider and not consider is different from what Nancy Grace’s viewership gets to see. They are allowed to foam at the mouth for five months with bloodlust, knowing from day one that the defendant is guilty as sin. But a juror is told to leave emotion and sensationalism at the door so that the defendant can have a fair trial.
You might say, “But Jodi Arias is a psychopath. She doesn’t deserve anything but the hot end of a gun.” You’re allowed to think that. But I hope for your sake that if you’re ever put on trial for something, you have jurors like my dad to hear you out.
I looked at my four year old son today as he was about to fall asleep. He gave me a dreamy, half conscious smile. Genuine, because four year olds always are. I told him I loved him. He said back to me, “I love you, dad.”
At that moment I realized that if I make it to the end of my life and my son can be proud of me, then I will die happy to my very bones.
So here’s my open letter to my dad:
Dad: I love you. And I am proud today, and I am proudest today, that you are my dad!
Samirsdad: I know in my heart that your son will one day be as proud of you as you are of your dad! Please tell Dad that many of us thank him for his service to justice, I cannot say that my own decision, if I had been in his shoes would have been any different. I did not envy his difficult position and decision. Thanks for your post and insight!