Cynthia Lovell, a registered Republican, voted for President Bush a year ago, but during 90 minutes behind closed doors with his rival, Senator John F. Kerry, yesterday, she had to admit he was a smart, down-to-earth guy.I'm glad he got some positive press for a change.
Joe Wesolaski, who works for a brokerage firm, declined to say how he voted but emerged from the same closed-door session praising Kerry as a natural leader who was eager to hear everyone's point of view.
Kerry the presidential candidate may have been a loser. But Kerry the jury foreman appeared to be a winner.
Massachusetts' junior senator led a Suffolk Superior Court jury that rejected a claim by two friends who sued a city worker for personal injuries they said stemmed from a car collision in August 2000 on Park Drive. The case lasted only two days, but it didn't take long for Kerry to win over his fellow jurors.
"I just found him to be a knowledgeable, normal person," said Lovell, a Charlestown nurse. "He kept us focused. He wanted us all to have our own say."
Wesolaski said Kerry went around the table making sure his 11 fellow jurors felt they had an opportunity to air their opinions.
During breaks, Wesolaski and the senator discussed their mutual passion for bicycling. Wesolaski said he gave Kerry his phone number so they can arrange a bike ride.
As the jurors left the courtroom after the verdict, Kerry could be overhead promising Wesolaski he would call him.
"It was great, really a positive experience," Wesolaski said. "I hope to hear from him."
Kerry, the only juror wearing a suit and tie, declined to discuss the case but told reporters afterward he was as surprised as anyone when no lawyer on either side sought to excuse him. He said he has been called for jury duty twice and got bounced both times because, he suspected, he had been a Middlesex County prosecutor in the 1970s.
The Democratic presidential candidate said he was delighted to participate in the trial, which had begun Monday.
"I enjoyed it," he said as he and a handful of jurors gathered for an impromptu news conference inside the courtroom at Suffolk Superior Court. "It was very interesting and very instructive. Every citizen should do it."
Lovell said she sensed that Kerry wanted to keep a low profile during deliberations, but one of the jurors promptly suggested he be elected foreman because of his experience in the limelight and skills as a public speaker. Kerry agreed to do it and began discussing the evidence.
Lovell was so impressed by the senator that she said she regrets voting for Bush.
Kerry is one of several notable Massachusetts public officials to be called for jury service in recent months. In January, US Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer was called for jury duty in Marlborough. In July, Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston was summoned to Suffolk Superior Court. Both were excused.
But none of the lawyers in this case objected to Kerry being on the jury.[...]
"I just think the city and state go hand in hand," he said, shaking his head. "I don't think he should have gone on the jury."
By the way, his brother, Cam Kerry, has a campaign site up at CamKerry.com. Cam is running for Secretary of State in Massachusetts.