Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Brief brush with Jury Duty

I have been summoned three times in my life. Once, I was disqualified. The second time, it was cancelled. Third time? Yep, you guessed it...I had to haul my curious self to the justice center yesterday in the current town I live in: a mix of rural and suburb surrounded by an outdoor playground. See picture below.

 This is what I found in the mail a couple of weeks ago...

Anyone else think it is odd that hubby and I BOTH got summoned a few days a part for different trials? Hubby's was canceled.

A part of me was nervous because serving means commitment, finding someone to watch my children, and experiencing something that some people never do in their lifetime.

So here's how it went...
     After stopping off at a local, drive-thru only coffee shop called, Divine Coffee and ordering my Hazelnut Latte (full of caffeine), I placed my belongings in a container similar to airport security. The security guards were all business until one said, "Enjoy your time." I replied, "I'll try." Huh? Enjoy jury duty? No one I know has ever seemed to speak of it with joy.

So into the jury assembly, I join the sea of other potential victims jurors. I turn in a paper and am rewarded with a plain white sticker reading Juror in bold, black and white letters that must be stuck and seen on my shoulder. One lady explains that this is a five day trial because it is a criminal case. Yikes! 5 days? 
Then, all of us are forced to watch a video about what being a juror will look like and what to expect. It is well organized and reminds me of training videos from my teaching days. My curiosity is peaking. Really, how much do I know about our justice system since I am not in law enforcement,  I'm not a judge or lawyer, and no, I have never been to trial for ANY reason. (Thank goodness, right)?

So this kind lady, she calls out 25 random names and those people get to line up and be the first jury pool to be tested and weeded out. We all go inside the courtroom. I am in the audience. This is the first time I have ever seen a courtroom. It is terribly fascinating to me. I don't think the older woman next to me agrees. She shifts and I understand because EVERYONE but the audience get comfy, plush chairs. We sit our bums on wooden benches for a total of five hours all together. 

The judge is a women and she is HILARIOUS. She actually makes light of what she knows is a tense situation. I think we all appreciated it. We are introduced to the lawyers and the defendant. I think,Whoa, this is for real. This man's verdict could be in my hands. It hits me, hard.  I have mixed emotions because this is a great right I have to be a part of democracy in action, yet, this case is a tough one. 

The questions asked of the jurors relate to knowing witnesses, the lawyers, some state qualifications or disqualifications, hardships and if the jurors have ever been in trial. Some jurors are excused.  We are given almost two hours for lunch/break. At this point, I still can't speak about the case.
     Later, after reconvening, the lawyers get 45 minutes each to ask specific questions to the jurors. The air is a bit more uncomfortable at this point. More of the case in a round about way is revealed. You get a sense of where the lawyers are headed. One more juror is dismissed. At this point, each lawyer gets to excuse 6 jurors each until there are 13 jurors for this case. 

I am never picked. A big part of me is relieved. This was a sexual assault case. The man was being charged with five different counts relating to the victim. The prosecution was filled with the burden of creating a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury so the verdict would be guilty. The defense attorney didn't have to bring any evidence or give testimony. 

The whole time I left all of it in God's hands. Trusting that He would know if I could be unbiased. If I should be a part of this trial or not. I am thinking He knew best. Now, I will pray for this man and all involved. For justice to prevail whether this man is guilty or not.
How lucky we all are to live in a country where a fair trial is given.



  1. Would that we did in all cases! Although there are those who do try hard to make it fair. However... Well, I know it's hard. So...
    Can I ever identify! Always excused, I sat in on selection, but "won" the "lottery" which meant I got excused. But as I listened to the instructions and learned the nature of the case, I really didn't know how unbiased I would be. It was a case similar to yours but had the added stickiness that the accused of impropriety was a pastor. Phew! Heavy responsibility, huh? I'm just so glad we have a God who sees and knows all and will act in perfect justice and grace.

  2. I served on a jury in Greeley ... it was fascinating. I think we should all serve just once to understand the process ... and how much it ISN"T like Law & Order :)

  3. I've never been summoned to duty, but still remember when my mom was placed on a lONG case when I was a little girl.. thought she'd NEVER come home :) Now I realize it was only a week.

  4. I've been summed a few times but I only had to actually show up once. I didn't mind doing my civic duty... except I was nursing my 6 month old. A court room isn't exactly a pump-friendly place! I asked a clerk about my options and she said she'd send me to a day trial. I could handle one uncomfortable day without pumping! Fortunately, I wasn't chosen for the trial and got to leave before noon.

    I have friends who joke about how they purposely said the 'wrong' things so they wouldn't be chosen. I don't understand that. Wouldn't they want a fair jury to hear their case if they were accused of a crime?

  5. Hi, Dionne! I, too have been summoned but never chosen. Now that my kids are older, I think it would be interesting to serve. Like you, I would feel the responsibility.
    I'm ridiculously late visiting from LAST week's SDG linkup!! Hope to see you linked up again this week. I do enjoy your posts, my friend.


Share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...