A juror of note

If ever there was a juror who seemed destined to take great notes during a trial, it was Kathleen Arent.

She’s a senior court reporter at the Erie County Courthouse who has transcribed hearings and trials for 25 years, capturing every word out of the mouths of lawyers and judges and handling all of the jargon, slang and mumblings uttered by the witnesses.

But recently, Arent sat in a courtroom for days at a time and did not record any dialogue. She was an alternate juror in a vehicular manslaughter trial.

Judges tend to frown on jurors taking notes. Besides, Arent liked watching the witnesses and concentrating on what they said, without the pressure of recording their every word. “I could just listen,” she said.

But there were times she felt jury duty put her on the spot.

Judges instruct jurors not to speak to the lawyers and others involved in a trial – not even to exchange pleasantries.

Arent, a friendly and well-liked courthouse employee, knew the lawyers in her trial, as well as several others in the courtroom. She could not say hello or goodbye to them.

How did she manage to follow the judge’s order?

“Kind of smile and keep your mouth shut,” she said.

On the rink of kindness

Here is a crazy hockey-parent story that will not make many headlines.

After the Mustangs from Strongsville, Ohio, recently eliminated a Buffalo Shamrocks youth hockey team in an emotional and hard-fought semifinal game at a Niagara Falls tournament, a Shamrocks parent and grandparent walked around the stands, passing around green clover-shaped cookies to ... Mustangs players and their families.

The Ohio kids walked out of their locker room eating shamrock cookies.

It was a nice gesture by the Shamrocks fans. But maybe they should have fed the Strongsville players cookies before the next game.

The Mustangs lost by a goal in the finals later in the day.

Getting the final word

We’ve noted before that defense attorney Joseph Agro shows decent range in the courtroom.

In one moment he talks about rap group Wu-Tang Clan, and in the next he refers to “Matlock” – the Andy Griffith TV legal drama that aired from 1986 to 1995.

When using a TV show to make a point to jurors, most lawyers rely on “Law & Order” (1990–2010) or “CSI” (2000-present).

During an assault trial this week, Agro reached back to the classic Raymond Burr series from 1957 to 1966.

“It ain’t Perry Mason!” Agro told jurors as he defended his client.

But while Agro may have dived deepest into TV history to make his point, his rival turned to a far older historical figure for an old chestnut about truth.

Prosecutor Christopher J. Belling quoted Abraham Lincoln in his summation: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Honest Abe trumped Perry Mason. Agro’s client was convicted.

Dress for access

Passing through the Erie County Courthouse metal detectors usually does not take long, depending on how far the line stretches and how much metal you wear.

It doesn’t take much to set off the alarm. So a woman seemed especially relieved by her wardrobe choice last week after passing the detector.

“I thought about wearing my cowboy boots,” she told a companion. “I’m glad I didn’t. They would have had a conniption fit over the spurs.”

By Patrick Lakamp. email: