The last action of the day was for the judge to read the stipulations - the specific legal facts of the case that both parties agree are true. There were three:
- the inlaw unit was an illegal unit;
- the tenant denies she was aware it was an illegal unit when she moved in;
- the parties' verbal rent agreement was illegal.
We were given instructions to return on Tuesday morning and let go for a long weekend. I was a little disappointed that we weren't done by Friday, because I couldn't wait to talk about this case, and three more days of silence seemed unfair.
We returned to court on Tuesday morning and I think it's fair to say the jury was ready to be deliberated and back to our regular lives. The judge read to us several pages of pre-deliberation instructions, and then the plaintiffs' attorney made his closing statement. He reiterated the three issues at hand: the tenant had not paid rent for two months of her tenancy; she was a nuisance to the family; and the unit was illegal and needed to be removed from the housing market.
He noted that the tenant hadn't provided any evidence to prove that she'd paid the rent. That she had harrassed the family and their son. And that she needed to move out.
And the the defendant started her closing statement. She claimed that the level of defamation to her character by the plaintiffs and their attorney forced her to represent herself, because she was the only one who knew the truth about their vicious attacks on "my character, my name, and my years of community service."
I found that phrase particularly ironic, given that the tenant hadn't provided her name or photo ID to the landlord and landlady, and she had two aliases listed on the court papers. Throughout the trial, the landlord and landlady referred to her as J, and claimed they didn't know her real name.
The defendant continued by restating some testimony and raising the same issues she brought up during cross examination. This was the briefest part of the past eight days. She spoke for less than an hour.
And then the plaintiffs' attorney got a chance for rebuttal. In a few minutes he outlined the parts of her argument that he felt were false. He mentioned again the harassment of his clients and their son. He reiterated the damage done to this family by the tenant. And then he called for us to "unmask that woman!"
The plaintiffs family applauded, and I tried to hide my smirk. That was the most drama we'd seen from him all trial.
We got our deliberation instructions and the bailiff led us to the secure deliberation room. It was roughly 2 pm on Tuesday. We had the facts before us. We had the three issues on which we were to decide. And we knew that a decision required nine yes votes - and not a unanimous 12. We were ready to deliberate.