Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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 . . . .

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