If you think being a victim of violent crime is traumatic, try being a juror--it's the next best thing to being there.
As America becomes more violent, jury duty is turning into a civic nightmare. Jurors are increasingly barraged with grisly exhibits, lawyerly acrimony, and tormenting testimony meant to make them experience a crime as the victim did. Worse, they may be sequestered from what they need most--the emotional support of family and friends.
Jurors find themselves struggling with head- and stomach- aches, sleeplessness, nightmares, or just plain emotional overload, according to Karil Klingbeil, M.S.W., of the University of Washington. She has created a debriefing process to ease jurors back to everyday life.
"Increasingly we ask jurors to see things they haven't had to in the past: videos showing the aftermath of a crime scene or the crime itself," she says.
Exhibit A is the gruesome trial of Gerald and Julie Sousa, accused of scalding their baby to death. Seattle jurors were asked to touch the baby's clothing and hear testimony on how the baby's skin came off in the father's hands.