A lot of us have fantasized about ways we might be able to talk our way out of jury duty -- but Susan Cole actually pulled it off, by casting herself in the role of a crazy person. Problem is, she bragged about her gambit on a radio program heard by a judge, leading to prosecution on a pair of charges to which she pleaded guilty this week. Here's the bizarre tale as told by Cole's arrest affidavit, on view below.
In October 2011, as we've previously reported, Denver District Judge Anne Mansfield was listening to Dave Logan's show on KOA radio. The topic? Getting out of jury duty -- and among the callers to Logan and co-host Dave Krieger was a woman who described how she dressed in the sort of disheveled manner meant to suggest she was mentally ill. The outfit caused the other jurors to stare at her and the judge to excuse her from the courtroom.
And who was that judge? Mansfield suspected it was her, since she recalled an incident like the one the woman described taking place on her watch earlier in the year.
Before long, an investigator with the Denver District Attorney's Office was put on the case. He listened to the podcast of the day's show and heard the segment in question, delivered by a woman who dubbed herself "Char from Denver." She explained that a couple of weeks before she was slated to serve on a jury, a fatal motorcycle accident had occurred in her neighborhood, and while she didn't know the victim, she was traumatized by the experience -- so much so that she felt emotionally unequipped for jury duty.
To get out of this responsibility, "Char" told the two Daves she put on mismatched shoes, reindeer socks she'd received over the holidays and a shirt that read "Ask Me About My Best Seller." She also put her hair up in curlers and slathered on an excessive amount of makeup -- something she'd never do in her professional life as a beautician and salesperson of Mary Kay cosmetics.
Cut to the courtroom. The judge asked if anyone present had any mental health issues that might affect their ability to serve. "Char" raised her hand, and was soon sent packing.
This level of detail helped the DA's office investigator pinpoint the court case in question to one that took place in late June. The transcript of the proceeding featured a woman identified as Cole saying the following:
I'm Juror 4361, and I broke out of domestic violence in the military. And I have a lot of repercussions. One is post-traumatic stress disorder. Another thing is I get very confused in the morning when I try to get read.
Other issues I have -- I do not want to go into detail. And I'll tell you what, I just get too emotional. And breaking out of domestic violence with a suitcase on my back from Germany and my military records are now missing.
I have lived on the street, and I have worked myself up to living with my cousin and stuff. And I don't want to emotionally go through this.
Continue to read more about Susan Cole's guilty plea in the jury-duty case. The following February, the investigator finally connected with Cole, who admitted that she was Juror 4361 -- and she allegedly echoed some of the claims she made in court. For instance, she said she suffered from PTSD due to an abusive marriage and bad things that happened to her while her husband was stationed overseas, the document states. She also insisted that she wore the outfit in question because she didn't have the energy to improve her appearance.
Cole subsequently made a number of attempts to verify these assertions, including giving the investigator a copy of a book she wrote entitled Seven Initiations with El-Way's Secrets, which is described on the website of its publisher, Atlas Books, like so:
Seven Initiations with El-Way's Secrets can renew your spiritual outlook and help you deal with difficult relationships and situations. El-Way's secrets explore Seven Initiations hidden in Genesis 9:11 and expose the King warned about in Revelation 9:11. Insight is threaded throughout the pages to help identify weaknesses and strengths in yourself, in your work with others, in your personal relationships, and in your relationship with God. The reader will learn tremendous power in the number seven and its spiritual significance. By embracing Seven Initiations with El-Way's Secrets, you can enrich your life. From the seven pillars of wisdom to an all-star athlete who wore the number seven, you will learn all aspects of this God-given number. Do you have the courage to explore and use Seven Initiations with El-Way's Secrets? Read this book and find out.
Also on the page is a bio of the author, identified as Char Cole:
Many citizens dislike politics and institutional religion; yet find wisdom and comfort in spiritual laws. Char Cole is one such person. She lived through a controlled and sheltered childhood, a repressive church, an abusive marriage, and even manipulation by the United States military before coming to understand that truth and unconditional love directly from God's word can be personal and empowering. Char Cole lives in Denver, Colorado where she styles hair. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.
Convincing? Apparently not enough for the DA's office, which formally charged Cole with first-degree perjury and an attempt to influence a public servant. And this week, she entered guilty pleas to both.
The punishment? Cole received a two-year deferred judgment on the attempt to influence a public servant (a felony), and two years' probation for perjury (a misdemeanor), to be served concurrently. As a bonus, she'll have to perform forty hours of community service.
Wonder what radio station she'll tune in while she's doing it?
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Look below to see a larger version of Cole's mug shot, followed by the aforementioned affidavit.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Nancy Marks, alleged money-bilking psychic: Did she foresee 'illness' that delayed trial?"