Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jury duty - take 2

It looks like I'm going to get a second chance to see that justice is done. Just found out that I need to report tomorrow morning at 9:00 for jury duty, round two.

I'm not sure what the trial is going to be. I have no idea what type of juror they're looking for. We'll see if they like me.

I know that the attorneys' reasons for selecting one person and not another out of the masses have way more to do with their legal agendas and much less to do with their personal feelings about how fabulous or atrocious they think we (as prospective jurors) are.

But I can't help but have that nervous feeling of a ten year old kid, standing on the playground at recess, hoping she's not picked last for kick ball.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jury duty - Day 1 update

Okay, today was pretty uneventful.

I sat in the jury holding cell waiting for my section to be called for questioning and was finally informed at 10:30 AM that my group was free to go.

Apparently, the case that we could have been assigned to was settled that morning, as the judge informed us is often the case.

It's possible the defendant realized that his case was not radically important (e.g., he's mad because he got a speeding ticket in a school zone in the middle of the night . . . frustrating, but not an issue that should actually go to court), and he took the plea bargain. We were told after being sworn in that sometimes just our presence in that room is enough to move court cases through the system. So it wasn't a shock to hear that I've been dismissed for the day.

In a nutshell, I'm still on-call, and although I won't have to return tomorrow, I'll call into the hot line tomorrow night to see if I need to show up on Thursday.

It may be that I never serve. The good news is that I still get paid for today and for every day that I'm called in. So far, I've made a whopping twenty-five dollaroos! Hold me back, I'm in the money now.

(Sigh) . . Oh well. I don't know if I'll ever see the inside of a court room. I came close today, but so far I'm still just a potential juror, waiting to see if I'll get to have my 15 minutes of fame.

Stay tuned for more . . . .

Jury duty

I've always felt extremely blessed and grateful to be able to live in the United States, where all citizens are granted (in theory) the same freedoms and rights by nature of our birth. To live in a country where, if accused of a crime, in the eyes of the court you're considered innocent until proven guilty. And where you are given the opportunity to defend yourself in a courtroom of your peers, who will hopefully help the judge reach a fair and unbiased decision regarding your ultimate judicial fate.

It's likely that in the course of every American's life time, each person will be called to serve in this role at least once.

But when I received my first jury summons in the mail a few months ago, my first thought was, "Crap, how can I get out of this? Maybe I could say or wear something that might make the attorneys feel that I'm not a good fit for their panel? Because goodness knows there are so many other important things I need to be taking care of. I don't have time for jury duty."

And I made a call and postponed this assignment as long as I could, reschueduling once to accommodate a work trip. But the day has crept up again, and as a dutiful citizen of Cobb County Georgia, I showed up for service as scheduled.

As I sat in the first court room this morning getting sworn in by the judge, the magnitude of what I'd been called to do started to hit me. I realized that it's quite possible that I might be called to serve on a criminal case and actually have some influence over the outcome of the trial. That my vote could make a difference in determining whether someone accused will be declared innocent or guilty in the eyes of the law, and also determine what his or her 'punishment' should be. That's pretty powerful stuff.

And my attitude is beginning to change about my participation in today's activities.

I'm currently sitting in a large room with over a hundred of my peers, and I'm no longer thinking of ways to appear apathetic to the judges and the attorneys who will be asking me questions. Now granted, I'm not going to appear over eager either. There REALLY ARE a ton of other things I need to be doing today.

But for now, I'm here. I'm listening and paying attention to what's going on, and I'm using this opportunity as the learning and growth experience that it truly is. And can I give kudos to the Cobb County courtroom for allowing us free wireless Internet? That is going to make all the waiting around I have in store somewhat bearable.

Now, if I could just find some coffee . . . .