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Civic Duty

February 24, 2019

juryI have been called for jury duty many times, but have never served on a jury before. Usually I just go to the comfy cafeteria (couches! plenty of electrical plugs! I love our courthouse cafeteria) and have a long, relaxing day of reading.

This time, I had the fun of seeing my friend do her job as the staff person who does the announcements for jury services. The announcements take about half an hour and she has a whole schtick, with jokes and asides, that makes the experience much more tolerable. At the end people clapped, so I threw in some concert-level whistles to show my appreciation.

I just had a feeling that I would be called to a courtroom and put on a jury, and I was right. Jury selection seemed like it took forever, with two very young attorneys, the prosecutor and the public defender, asking the questions. Of course, it is one of the casualties of getting older that everyone starts to look like a high-schooler.

The defendant for the meth possession and use case looked like he was high in court, which caused me to have a long talk with myself about whether I could judge the case based solely on the evidence, not on his appearance as he sat there bobbing and weaving in court. I decided I could, and soon was sitting in jury seat #2.

The whole process was surprisingly enjoyable for one reason: I could simply focus fully on one thing. I’m normally doing many things at once and am interrupted often. So to sit for several days, fully present to the matter at hand, was an odd kind of luxury.

It was a simple case. Lots of evidence, including video and audio. The defense had basically no case, which was made very clear, especially during a section where the defense attorney spent about 10 minutes trying to pin the police officer down on whether the contraband was found directly under the glovebox or slightly in front of it.

Jury deliberations were going to be simple, but there was one holdout who had some mysterious reasons for dragging it out. She claimed to want to give all the facts a full hearing, but I’m suspicious that she may have wanted another day off work.

But we did our work methodically, seriously and followed every rule. My fellow jurors were all committed to giving the defendant a fair shake. The whole process was very well laid out. I was impressed with the thoughtfulness with which it was created. The jury instructions provided the law and each box we had to check to find the man guilty, which we did, on all counts.

There was no satisfaction our verdict. The defendant was a man who seems to have made so many bad choices in life, and this is just the latest thing. There was no winning in this case, but I’m glad I got to hear it.

 

Photo used under a Creative Commons license. Credit https://pxhere.com/en/photo/394975

2 Comments leave one →
  1. byjane permalink
    February 24, 2019 11:07

    I’ve been picked to sit on a jury several times. Your experience was not mine. My experience is such that if I’m ever on trial, I’ll ask for the decision to be made by the judge. But then, Suebob, it occurs to me that you are a lot more tolerant of the vagaries of other people than I am.

  2. March 4, 2019 00:03

    Brilliant

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