The Show Amidst the Wait

We have heard about his daughter’s wedding plans, his devotion for Notre Dame, the gifts he already bought for his children and the one too many jokes with which he entertains the entire courtroom.

It is really hard not to laugh at what he says or feel more relaxed amidst such a scenario. Bear in mind we’re all there waiting for something really serious to start: the trial of two young men charged with a hate crime after the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah more than two years ago.

But by now, court deputy Joe has won the sympathy of jurors and reporters alike, although he rarely addresses the latter.

During the last two days, the majority of the close to a hundred prospective jurors have spent almost 20 hours sitting waiting for the judge’s assistant to come out of the private room and tell Joe who’s next in the series of individual questionings.

For them, as well as for the media, it’s been a tedious time. And perhaps he’s the one that understands it better. You see him walking around the room addressing the ones on the left, then the ones in the back, then calling somebody’s number just to later continue with his entire routine.

But in the end he sticks to the rules.

“The man in the black robe is my boss,” he says, making reference to Judge Richard A. Caputo, who’s presiding over this case.

And when it seems he’s taking a break, he goes back at it. He probably understands very well that nobody wants to be there waiting. Waiting. And his voice roars once more asking who has seen the movie The Quiet Man?

“Somebody has to have seen it!” he yells, and soon after a voice from the other side of the room says yes.
He has set a very nonchalant tenor for those two days of waiting. Soon it all may be different.

Judge Caputo announced the jury selection will take place today. But those who were dismissed already shared a good laugh with those who remain.

And as the press sat there awkwardly witnessing the show—jurors are not supposed to have any interaction with the press—, so did the family of Derrick Donchak and the mother of Brandon Pierkasky, who have been sitting at the very back of the courtroom for the past two days.

And even them have shared a laugh or two, a strange communion between them and the people who very soon will determine the fate of their children.

About Gustavo Martínez Contreras

was born in Texas, brewed in Mexico City, seasoned in the Mexico-United States border, aged walking the streets of Philadelphia. He had a short-lived stint eating grits, fried chicken, and peaches in Atlanta. He later became a béisbol writer for El Diario de Nueva York. He has written about immigrant communities in English, Spanish, and some Spanglish. Although he does not have a shelf full of awards, Gustavo has received thank you notes and hugs from people who have trusted him with their stories. His work has appeared in Voices of New York, El Diario/La Prensa, Dallas’ Al Día, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, Philadelphia Weekly, Radio Bilingüe, Latina Lista,, among others. He is currently pursuing a master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
This entry was posted in Hate crime, Immigration, Luis Ramírez, Shenandoah. Bookmark the permalink.

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