SIRHAN JUROR BACK AT WORK|
From The Visiting Fireman, Vol. 3, No. 10, Page 1, May 12, 1969.
Adjuster Ruth Stillman is back at her desk in the Los Angeles Branch after a three-month paid leave. But it wasn't the kind of leave she'd like to take again. Ruth was on the jury that found Sirhan B. Sirhan guilty of first-degree murder and that sentenced him to death. Looking back over the past months, she is reluctant to talk about the case and refuses to discuss what went on in the jury room.
Originally, she was one of six alternate jurors required by California law in a murder case. When a regular juror fell ill, she was selected by lot on March 28 to replace him.
In line with the many special precautions taken for this case, all jurors were locked up from the day the trial began on February 12 until the penalty phase was completed just over two and a half weeks ago.
"Home" for the jurors was the Biltmore Hotel. Two wings of the sixth floor were set aside for their use, with deputy sheriffs stationed at each end of the halls on a 24-hour basis.
The jurors ate mostly at the hotel, occasionally at restaurants, and were always accompanied by four bailiffs. Friday night was movie night and they would all go by private bus to a special showing room at Paramount Studios. For exercise, there were weekend trips to the beach for volleyball or a walk along the sand.
Recalls Ruth, just to walk was welcome exercise after the long stretches of sitting.
Other than that, the jurors were almost entirely cut off from their normal lives for the full ten weeks. After the deliberations began, they could have no contact with anyone outside the court - no phone calls, letters or visits.
Throughout the trial, the newspapers they were allowed to see were thoroughly clipped to remove all articles touching on the case. At no time were the jurors allowed to discuss the trial with each other outside the jury room.
This was Ruth's first experience on a jury. Of her fellow jurors she says, "They were a wonderful bunch of people. We all got along together."
Now that it's all over, she would rather not talk about it or even read about it. The few accounts she has seen of what went on in the jury room are, she says, far wide of the truth.
Asked if she would ever serve again at a murder trial, she replied after a pause, "I would have to think about that a long while. . . I think once in a lifetime is enough."
[Fireman's Fund Archives: 4-1-3-5-30; 1335]
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