Family Secrets Trial: The Blindsided Fallout

This is the final post about the Family Secrets trial and I have to admit, the most draining for us to relive. I am beyond grateful that Tom agreed to share his experience with you. He is a gifted storyteller who was able to balance his humor with respect for the magnitude for the trial. I am in awe of his efforts and proud to be his old lady. (PS. This post entitles him to one free, no-bitching pass to his favorite watering hole: The Club.)

Thank you so much for following the Mini-Series.

Tom’s Turn:
So two months pass of this daily routine, with me showing up at 9:30 am, listening to explosions, murders, arrogant lawyers, and checking out an audience.  I had buddies in attendance, a pretty hot FBI agent there every day, and, family members check it out.  I would occasionally hear that someone saw the court artists rendering of my giant head and body next to a bunch of old stick figures.   Yeah, you could tell in the drawings that old #264 was in the front row.

Frank Calabrese Sr., looked like he had on a bad leisure suit a few days, Joey “The Clown” Lombardo appeared dazed and confused, and I laughed or giggled every time defense lawyer Susan Shatz questioned someone on the stand.  I wondered the abuse she had to get as a kid with the last name Shatz. I would occasionally see her buying produce at the same farmers market I would go by during lunch, and wanted to say hi, but I couldn’t.

To keep up with my job, I had a PDA to check my email, went to work every morning to touch base, and then on Fridays I would go to work for the entire day.  Work was relatively slow in the summer, and I kept on top of things. This did wear on me though, as mentally you were shifted in many different directions throughout the summer.

Unlike Costanza, the “Summer of Tom” did not occur in 2007.   I was pretty much at the beck and call of work, jury duty, and minimal family time.  I believe we spent the 4th of July weekend gone for maybe a day.

Unfortunately, one day I went into the office, and I was let go from my position.  As so many people out there today can relate, it was a numbing and humbling experience.   I never figured I would lose my job, and was under the impression that it was safe for a long time.   In 2007, the economy started to really falter, and I lost my job on the front end of the economic downturn.

To say it was a scary time would be an understatement.

I was the sole breadwinner in the family, and the pressure of the trial paled in comparison to the pressure of “how the hell am I gonna make ends meet now.”  I’m going to let my wife go into detail about it on another post, because I have really tried to take the high road on this learning experience, and have moved forward. Plus she is about as emotionally nuts as they come.

(One bit of advice for those of you out there, please don’t say: “Everything happens for a reason” to someone who is unemployed.  It really isn’t something people like to hear. How about a punch in the face, was there a reason for that to happen?  Ok, that was a little harsh! )

That Friday when I was terminated from my position, I had to ponder my next move over the weekend.  Judge Zagel, who by the way also presided over the Rod Blagojevich mess last year, told the jurors to contact him if we ever had a problem with our employer.  I reached out to “Your Honor”, that day via email, and he wrote back that I had options that we could discuss Monday before the trial.  I was a bit relieved, but had no idea what would happen.

Monday morning comes: the first day of closing arguments. I tell my guy Lindy and others that I got shit canned.  While the economy wasn’t in total shambles yet, the job market definitely was starting to weaken a bit.  The bailiff, a Chicago Catholic Leaguer southsider that I liked a lot and also shared my crush on Carol Marin, calls me in to Zagel’s office.   His office was very nice, and his lawyer intern, helper, or whatever he was, sat down with me at his table.  The intern used to drink all the freakin’ coffee for the jurors which kind of pissed me off, but what the hell, I was jobless and could use a helping hand.

Zagel (who is very tiny, but scared me more than “Little” Jimmy Marcello) asks me, “Despite this occurrence, do you feel you can still serve on the this trial?”

My answer, “Absolutely, I’ve made it this far, I want to see it through.”   Judge said that is good to hear, and I will have an attorney meet with you at the break in the morning.  It sounded like a great plan, and I went back to hang with Lindy.

About twenty minutes later, the bailiff comes in and says, “#264 (still not my weight), Judge would like to see you.”  I head back to the chambers, and he informs me that he has been advised to dismiss me from the jury for my own career purposes.  My initial reaction, albeit a silent one, was: “What the hell? I have no career right now, and frankly I could use the $43.64 a day I’m getting from this debacle.”  But I remained quiet, and he informed me a lawyer was on the way to talk to me.

My pals go into the courtroom, and I’m sequestered in the good Judge’s chambers.  I wait for a lawyer to show up, and he talks briefly and says he will escort me out the building.  I hear from an office worker that reporters were wondering where ole #264 is as the closing arguments take place on that Monday morning.

I get on the train, and my jury duty has ended.

It was a pretty empty feeling. And I think the bar at the train station was closed, so I head home to ponder next steps…

The following books about the trial are available from Barnes & Noble:

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  1. Hyguy

    Nice job Tom…well written.

  2. Kinger

    Thanks Chris! Thanks for following the blog. Have a good weekend.

  3. Neighbor 264

    OK, while I am enjoying following your Mob Trial Prose, I must say I am a little miffed not to even get a mention. Have to admit that the whole 264 thing made me quite nervous. I was ducking every time a black sedan rolled into the hood. What if he got the #’s confused? And then you didn’t even mention my little trip down to courtroom just see your big head bobbing in the front row. “Let me tell ya”, I have better neighbors buddy. You just ask, they will tell you. Just sayin.

  4. Mia

    Great job Buttermaker!

  5. Red (juror #454)

    What a great series! Loved reliving this craziness through your blog!
    This is and will always be one of the wildest and weirdest things I was ever forced into doing.
    You definitely made our time there more livable – seriously!

    Thanks for shaing your blog for this story!!!
    p.s. You’re SO my current blogging mommy crush! You’re hilarious!

  6. frank jr

    Tom, Great job with the series. I always wondered what was going through a juror’s mind during a trial like this. Now we as readers got a first hand look through you on the emotional toll a Mob trial takes on a hard working 9 to 5 family man.
    Tom you & the wife keep up the good work, Frank Calabrese Jr.

  7. Karen

    Hi Red, So glad that you were following this — you were the most asked about character in the series! And what a love triangle: Tom has a crush on you. You have a crush on me. And I have a crush on John Kass.

  8. Mel

    I am very sorry for the very glaring omission. I know you were nervous, and it was the reason why my wife would send me over to drink in your living room many nights during the trial. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Thanks for being the best neighbor in the world……

    Thanks for following the blog…


  9. Buttermaker

    Thanks Mia, and thanks for the support on the blog. Now, go drink water and eat some grass or whatever the hell it is you guys are up too..


  10. 264


    Thanks for checking in, and I gotta be honest, I blushed when I saw you post! I hope all is well, and a appreciate the kind words. I know it was a very crazy time for you, and I am glad to see you are doing great.

    Stay in touch,


  11. 264

    Frank Jr.,

    Thanks for the post and for following the blog. I really enjoyed your book, and hopefully one day will meet you and have you sign mine! You have lived quite a life, and should be commended by all for doing the right thing.

    Thanks again,


  12. A Field of Dreams

    Thanks for the great series. I enjoyed reading it,byut I must say that sucks that you were dismissed and didn’t see it through to the final moments!

  13. Ronnie

    What happens next! Oh, the ending to this mini series is almost as aggrivating as the end of The Sop…

  14. Karen

    It was a frickin’ double whammy: Friday loses his job. Monday gets kicked off the trial. We are pretty sure that the lawyers didn’t want a disgruntled juror going into deliberations so the other side could call for a mistrial. It was awful.

  15. Karen

    We lived happily ever after~ (well, three years later I can say that!)

  16. Amy

    Wow, I feel let down that you weren’t able to be there for the closing arguments and final deliberations, I can only imagine how you must have felt, Tom! I feel for you, that must have sucked and I’m sure that is an understatement. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve really enjoyed reading it.

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