I received my notice to appear at the Federal Court in Dallas on Jan 17 for Federal Court duty. I thought it would be neat to show up, see what it was like an get a day off of work. They herded 56 people into the court room. I should have known I was in trouble when I was placed in the first row. Sure enough I was picked, juror #4, sitting front row, center....wonderful.
For the next 5 weeks, I learned more than I wanted to know about mortgages, title companies, wire and bank fraud.
During the opening argument by the prosecution they mentioned the name Eugene Lockhart, I thought that name sounded familiar, then Cowboys Realty and Americas Team Mortgage was mentioned. I hadn't heard of those before, but I knew this had to tie into former Cowboys players.
Sure enough, it did. Eugene Lockhart played for the Cowboys and the Patriots in the 80s & 90s. He pleaded guilty last year to mortgage fraud and testified in this case to hopefully shorten his sentence.
The case included 11 defendants, 6 plea bargained last year, including Lockhart, and the remaining 5 were part of this trial.
For over 4 weeks we heard testimony from home buyers, bank officers, home builders, and escrow officers. We also heard from expert witnesses, character witnesses, family members, and another former Cowboy Kevin Smith.
After listening to all of the evidence, and deliberating for a day and a half we decided that 4 defendants were guilty of either conspiracy, bank fraud or wire fraud. We could not come to a verdict on one defendant who was only charged with conspiracy.
While I am not happy that I ended up missing so much work, I am not upset that I was picked. I am going to miss showing up for jury duty early and talking to the other jurors about their life and families.
How many countries in the world have a system like ours, where each person can get a fair trial? Say what you want, but we all have a role to play, it's what makes our system work.
I just hope I don't get a summons for a while.