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Listen up, jurors: Here’s how to survive Coe trial

Thu., Sept. 18, 2008

Seven weeks with Kevin Coe?

And they call the death penalty cruel and unusual.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard that 12 innocent jurors could sacrifice possibly seven weeks of their lives to serve in Coe’s civil commitment trial.

At stake is whether Coe – aka the South Hill Rapist – will go free as a felon who has done his time or will be locked indefinitely away as a dangerous sexual predator.

(It would take me two seconds to put the louse away until the next millennium. But that’s probably why I never get called to jury duty.)

To help these poor jury members survive this time of trial, I have designed “Coping with Coe,” a week-by-week psychological survival guide that I made up mainly from junk I saw on Oprah.

Week One – Congratulations, Juror People! You made the Coe commitment cut.

The feelings of superiority you’re experiencing right now are natural. In a few days, however, you will start to realize that getting on a jury is not like winning the Lotto.

Most defense lawyers will tell you that the ideal jury was the O.J. Simpson murder trial jury, which had a collective IQ of a small zucchini.

But don’t let this depress you. Focus instead on the positive things about your imprisonment.

Like making some meal money and getting regular restroom breaks.

Week Two – Feeling a bit trapped, are we?

Of course you are. And you are trapped. Trapped like lab rats. Trapped like taxpayers at an IRS audit.

You need to create a Happy Place where you can hide while the lawyers drone on and on.

A Happy Place can be an imaginary tropical island. Or maybe the memories of your favorite Christmas.

Ahhh. Now isn’t that better?

But keep your eyes open. Going to your Happy Place is not to be confused with taking a nap.

The first rule of being a good juror is to always con the judge into thinking you’re paying attention.

Week Three – The nightmares should be in full swing about now.

No wonder. You’ve heard so much about Kevin Coe’s crimes and putrid proclivities that you’re considering asking the judge for juror vomit bags.

Remember that old cliché about laughter being the best medicine?

Bursting into sudden and inappropriate fits of uncontrolled laughter could be your ticket out of the courtroom.

Playing the crazy card is risky, however. You could get locked up in a booby hatch, which is essentially what the state wants to do with Coe.

Week Four - During the next break go into a bathroom and lock the door. Now repeat after me …

“I’m in hell! I’m in hell!

“I’m in helllllllll!!!”

This may not make life on the jury any easier.

But I find the technique quite cathartic when dealing with editors.

Week Five – The trial has now reached the point where most jurors are no longer mentally able to pay attention.

For example: A lawyer may say, “Your honor, I move that the witness’s last statement be stricken from the record.”

But the jury will hear, “Your honor, the fish in my aquarium just stole my armadillo.”

So it’s important for jurors to find ways to occupy what is left of their brains.

Here’s a thought. You can create anagrams out of phrases you’ve heard in the courtroom.

For example: The phrase “Kevin Coe Commitment” can be reconstructed into: “Convict Teem Memo Ink.”

Think about that when it’s time to deliberate.

Week Six – You’re nearing the end. You can tell by the dark haunted eyes, the haggard expressions, the pasty skin …

And those are the lawyers.

You jurors are looking way worse.

Week Seven – You made it. You’ve done your duty. You’ve survived.

You’re no doubt shaky from all you have been through.

Not to mention the prospect of years and years of counseling and perhaps having to hire an exorcist to purge Kevin Coe’s ugly mug out of your head.

Don’t be afraid to tell one of the sheriff’s deputies how lost and light-headed you are. Cops have been down this road many times before and will be glad to help.

Besides, cops have a great knowledge about the layout of the city. And if you ask, he or she will gladly give you directions to a place you can go for hope and peace and sanctuary.

No, I don’t mean a church.

I’m talking about how to get to the nearest bar.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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