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November 20, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Jury duty an educational experience for family

Daily Star

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When Nicole Edwards, 25, of Delhi, was called to serve on the jury during Glenford Hull's retrial on a second-degree murder charge, her civic duty became a family affair.

Nicole's parents, Mark and Ellen, her sisters Patricia and Rebecca and her brother Stephen all spent time in the courtroom observing the proceedings and lending moral support during the three-week trial.

Stephen, 16, who is home-schooled, said he was there to check out career possibilities and to see the legal system in action.

"I enjoyed it," Stephen said Wednesday. "It was neat to see how all of the aspects of the law fit together. There was a lot going on, and after I was there for a while I decided it would be a very difficult career route to become an attorney."

Rebecca, 22, said: "I just went to watch, but I found it very interesting. The defense attorney and the district attorney had such different methods. Mr. Jacobs was so animated, and Mr. Northrup was quieter.

"And (Supreme Court Justice Michael V. Coccoma) was so calm; he wasn't anything like Judge Judy on television, but he did have a sense of humor."

Rebecca said one of the hardest parts of the three-week trial was not talking to or in front of Nicole about the trial.

Rebecca said Nicole wasn't feeling well during the early phases of the trial, which made the family members in the courtroom wonder if she was eating and taking her medications.

Patricia, 27, said she was in court at least part of every day of the trial.

"It was fascinating," she said. "It was something we had never experienced before, and I found it very educational.

"The nitty-gritty of the courtroom action is something most people in general are not familiar with," Patricia added. "They have no idea what goes on in a courtroom. It's nothing like what you see on television."

Patricia said she found the attorneys' method of laying the groundwork in the questioning for the examination and cross-examination interesting.

"I was called for jury duty on a civil case about a year ago, and I was disappointed I didn't get called," Patricia said.

Ellen said she was concerned about her daughter, Nicole, because she wasn't sure what she was going to see and hear when the evidence was presented.

"I also worried about how she would cope after the fact," Ellen said. "When she finally came home we talked for two hours because we hadn't been able to talk for three weeks."

Nicole said she was nervous when she received the jury summons because she had never been called before and had no idea what was going to happen.

"I was hoping I would be able to serve, so I was glad when they chose me," she said. "I didn't know anyone on the jury, so it was quite an experience, but I felt very comfortable and it was really neat to be able to participate in our judicial system.

"We had a really good group, and we all got along even when we didn't agree. As it got more stressful you could tell that some of them were trying to deal with the tension by joking around."

She added that the judge was very nice, and the court officers were all very attentive and took good care of the jury's needs.

Nicole said she found it interesting to meet people from all over Delaware County and discover things she didn't know about some of the far corners of the county.

"I would definitely do it again," she said.