Maggie Gram,
New York Civil Liberties Union
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June 13, 2006

Sandi, Sarah, Patricia, Miriam, Kelly, and Christine, the plaintiffs in the Lochren case, are clustered together on the right side of the courtroom with NYCLU and ACLU attorneys Cassy and Namita and Outten & Golden attorneys Linda and Carmelyn. We're waiting, anxiously, for the verdict.

Across the room, Assistant County Attorney Chris Termini and his associate talk quietly. Their side of the federal courtroom is pretty much deserted. A few members of the press are scattered in the rows, awaiting the jury’s return.

The tension in the room is palpable. Occasional eruptions of edgy laughter rise up over the low hum of excited chatter. Everybody waits.

What will the verdict be? Will the jury come down in favor of the plaintiffs and right the wrongs inflicted by the policy by awarding them compensatory damages? What about the possibility of additional damages? Or ...

The slightest noise or movement garners immediate attention. All heads inadvertently swing in the direction of the disturbance in anticipation of the awaited moment — only to be faced with yet another false alarm. After an hour and a half, counsel for the defense interrupts the charged chatter to announce his plan to leave his post in pursuit of a cup of coffee. The plaintiffs and their attorneys almost immediately follow suit, abandoning the tense courtroom for a few minutes respite before the waiting begins in earnest.

The tenor of the courtroom is expectation: everyone seems to be anticipating an early verdict ...

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