The next portion of our educational and soul-sucking journey through The Legal System is what we will call "Sentencing", Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to also call it "happening tomorrow". Or even "be there next week". However, that is not how things work in Real Life.
As I alluded previously, we have discovered that in Real Life, courtroom drama takes weeks. Maybe months. Sometimes, years even.
We have learned to be patient.
We have learned to always arrive prepared.
We have learned to expect the worst, pray for the best, and trust the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case.
And the ADA says that the Sentencing Phase will happen late next month. But based on the jury's verdict, we already know what the minimum sentence is that can be handed down in this case. (the maximum is nearly irrelevant; how many more years past "life" can you live in jail?) We also already know what penal facility she will be sent to. What her prisoner number is. We know the anticipated processing date - the (tentative) date that she will leave the county jail, where she is now, to go to "the big house". As my grandmother used to say, it's all over except for the crying.
I'm going to close this chapter of my life. Aside from those things listed above, I have learned many other things during the course of the trial, and during the long hours that the jury was out.
I've had to replay a significant chunk of my life - our life as a family - in court during testimony. And while there was no one "aha!" moment, by the time the trial was over, it was apparent to me that my now-former friend has been living a sad, shallow, hollow existence. No one loves her enough to come to her trial; even her own children stayed away. Her family refused to testify on her behalf, and the one person who did take the stand (as her witness, for the defense) wound up making things worse for her. At first, she tried to appear carefree and confident, but as the trial wore on, and the defense ran out, she simply began to look frantic.
By comparison, I sat calmly, with my husband by my side, and an entire legion of supporters. Mutual friends came - a few to see the show, to be sure, but nearly all were in support of what I had had to do. Because of the sensational nature of the case, law students were brought in to observe from the local college, and the media couldn't get enough.
Let this be a lesson to you - as I have said before, despite what the TV dramas portray, they don't wait patiently for you on the courthouse steps. They dog you when you are trying to go to the bathroom. They chase you down hallways, and stairwells, and they quickly know what car you drive, and camp out next to it. They get your phone number, and fill your answering machine with requests for interviews, statements, quotes, anything. They call your friends and your family. They park at the end of your driveway. They follow you to the grocery, the doctors office, even church. They all just want "one little quote", "one quick interview", "one little minute of your time".
But it doesn't matter anymore. Because I have "it". I have what she wants - what she has always wanted, always craved. I have the life she wants, and tried so hard to create. I have the peace, and tranquility that comes only from living the truth. I have a loving family, and a strong marriage. I have the support of my friends, the weight of public opinion on my side, and most importantly, a verdict from a jury of her peers.
I also know the ultimate secret that comes from living through something like this...
Do you want to know what it is?