Peterson jurors show signs of solidarity
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com August 16, 2012 3:44PM
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:20AM
JOLIET — The panel of men and women chosen to decide Drew Peterson’s fate have provided a subtle indication of their solidarity.
On Thursday, the members of the Peterson jury — old, young, black, white — filed into the jury box, each wearing blue clothing.
On Wednesday, they all wore red, Will County Court Administrator Kurt Sangmeister said.
“I take that as a sign that they’re all getting along,” he said, adding that the disagreement among jurors often starts when juries reach the deliberation stage.
“Some (juries) get along very well. They develop lifelong friendships,” Sangmeister said. “They’re in the (jury) room, they have to learn to work it out.”
The Peterson jurors have spent a lot of time holed up together in the jury room, only having contact with the bailiff and each other.
Considering the frequency with which Peterson prosecutors and defense attorneys call for sidebar conferences outside the jury’s presence, they have had a lot of time to get to know each other.
Their jury room is stocked with puzzles, a box of paperbacks the jurors brought from home, and a Trivial Pursuit game the bailiff brought in for them.
Sangmeister said he didn’t know whether they have a game going, but said they may be quizzing each other with the trivia cards.
The jurors were given permission to bring in their own drip coffee maker and Starbucks coffee, in an apparent rebellion against the courthouse coffee.
“Our coffee is kind of lousy,” Sangmeister said.
Tuesday through Friday, they spend all day at the courthouse, either in the jury room or the courtroom.
“(The jury room) is like their home or office,” said Jerry Nudera, deputy chief of courthouse security.
Neither Nudera or Will County Sheriff spokesman Ken Kaupas would reveal anything about the security in place around the jury, including how they arrive at the courthouse and where they park their cars.
Besides making $10 a day in payment as well as a mileage stipend, the jury gets lunch from a selection of downtown Joliet’s restaurants.
It has be food that can be whipped up quickly — pizza, sandwiches, etc., Sangmeister said, as the court usually only takes an hour lunch break.
The court also provides cold soda and water, he said.
Each jury hearing cases at the courthouse is cared for according to that particular judge’s wishes.
“It’s the judge’s courtroom,” Sangmeister said. “The decision always falls to the judge. What he or she wants to see is what we make happen.”
Next week, there will be two juries hearing high-profile murder cases — Peterson in one room, Christopher Vaughn’s case in the courtroom next door — at the courthouse. But it’s still business as usual in the rest of the building.
“There are other trials going on,” Nudera said. “This courthouse is continuing to run as normal as we can.”