Tulsa County Jurors To Receive Free Grief Counseling

Friday, October 26th 2018, 8:29 pm
By: News On 6, Lori Fullbright

Tulsa County is the first in the state to start a new program to offer to counsel to jurors who saw terrible pictures and heard gut-wrenching testimony about violent crimes during their jury duty. 

Prosecutors say they hope this free service will help jurors cope after the trial.

Ordinary citizens sit in the jury box during trials and they see and hear things they never wanted to see and hear but do so because it's their civic duty.

They're often exposed to violent, unimaginable crimes and research shows that can take a toll on a person.

You add that to the fact that jurors aren't allowed to talk to anyone about the case during the trial and then are sent home with only a thank you afterward. It can be tough.

"They're not given any time to say how they felt about looking at those terrible pictures or hearing that terrible testimony,” said Tulsa County DA Steve Kunzweiler.

This need became abundantly clear after the Michael Bever trial when jurors were visibly crying during some of the evidence; pictures of two adults and three children slaughtered in their own home and heartbreaking testimony from a survivor.

So now, after jurors are finished serving on violent cases, they will receive a letter and pamphlet explaining they can receive six free counseling sessions at Tulsa's Tristesse Grief Center.

"If they feel they're having any anxiety, any stress, anything left over from a trial, I encourage them to come on in. It may just be one visit,” said Lauri Lenora with the grief center.

They say symptoms like trouble sleeping, irritability, and nightmares may not show up for weeks or months but when they do, jurors can come in. The center has created a program especially for them.

"They're doing their civic duty and we want to support that," said Lenora.

The idea is to lessen the trauma that can happen inside a courtroom and they hope other counties in Oklahoma will follow suit.