In the quiet of his home in a Commercial Street condominium, former Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi has been pondering his fate. Where he spends the next 10 years of his life is on the line right now with a Federal jury about to decide his fate.
It is hard to know where DiMasi is at inside the privacy of his thoughts. It remains impossible to know what he is feeling or where exactly he is at as the decision of a lifetime is about to be handed down about him by the jury.
I know this – DiMasi is a real guy. He has always been loyal to friends and he tended to pick up the phone when asked for a favor nearly every time if it was a favor that could be done.
I also know this. In the years before he was the speaker, he was a tough lawyer who understood the law before he went to court. He’s been to court for clients 1000 times over the decades. Again, as a lawyer, he knew what he was doing. He always knew how far he could go – and he especially knew when he was about to be beaten by the system or by a client whose case could not be properly defended.
As he nears the end of his own time in Federal Court, as he approaches the moment when the jury comes back to the judge and everyone is assembled inside the courtroom and then the judge asks the foreman of the jury:”Have you reached a verdict?”
And the jury foreman replies: “Yes we have, your honor.”
A court officer will take the written verdict from the jury foreman and walk it over the to the judge. The judge will review the finding, hand the verdict back to the court officer and he will walk it back to the jury foreman.
“Read the verdict,” the judge will ask.
“How do you find Sal DiMasi?”
And then comes the ultimate moment of truth for DiMasi and for everyone who loves him, who was aided by him, who believes in him, who do not want to see him go to jail.
Then the jury foreman will read the verdict.
And he will say one of two things.
If the decision is “Innocent,” DiMasi will experience a moment of elation he could not imagine existed and be immediately released from the torture he has experienced since the Federal government put its hands on him more than 2 years ago and effectively ruined his life with accusations, indictments and the trial that has just ended.
He will hug his wife and stepdaughter, hug his lawyers and a few minutes later, he will leave the courtroom a free man – as free as a bird. And later that day in a private moment, he will certainly cry and be humbled by the decision of the jury. And then he would likely raise a fist in the air and shout out the word, “Yes!”
If the decision is “Guilty,” in an instant he accepts his fate without an outburst, without a show of emotion. At the same time, his entire being is savagely attacked by the horrible reality of what will likely follow.
He will hug his wife and step daughter and after a moment or two when the court room calms down after the announcement of the verdict, the judge will do one of two things.
“Take him away,” the judge will order a court officer. The court officer will handcuff the former speaker and walk him out of the courtroom.
When that door he goes through shuts behind him, he has lost his freedom and will sleep in a jail cell that night and every night thereafter until the judge decides what sentence he is going to impose, something that would be done a few weeks later.
Either that or the judge allows DiMasi to remain free while his lawyers pursue an appeal.
A man’s life and his future are at stake in Federal Court this week when the jury decides whether Sal DiMasi is guilty or innocent.
It will be a moment of truth.