Have you done Jury Duty? I have. It was an interesting and fulfilling experience. It was over a year ago so I feel OK talking about it now, even though I could have before. The process is what I was most interested in knowing, and I got to see it all as I made it onto the jury. One big surprise – I was never bored! On the contrary, I was fascinated by it all.
We received a notice in the mail and had to call or check the website the night before the trial in case it was cancelled, it wasn’t. The next morning about 30+ showed up at the courthouse, some came late, they had to stay late.
The bailiff brought us into the courtroom where the defendant and attorneys sat. We all sat in the audience area and the they randomly picked about 20 of us to question. Up to the jury box we filed. The judge read us some information and then the eliminations started.
First the attorneys, then the judge asked us questions as a group. Some people obviously wanted out. One guy used a weak excuse about being up for 5 days straight with a teething baby, which he most probably wasn’t as he looked fine to me. The judge tried to keep him, but eventually gave up and let him go. If you answered any questions positively they further questioned you. That’s how it worked, they asked the exceptions to raise their hand. Very structured.
Each attorney got to release some of us. I ended up in the final 14. Then they picked 2 randomly and dismissed them. We were down to 12, no alternates. Again we got a scripted lecture from the judge, not about finding guilt, but about searching for the truth. That’s what I remember most, he told us to try to find the truth.
We heard testimony from the arresting officer most of the morning. We got a break and then back to the deputy’s testimony. We were instructed not to discuss the case with each other in the jury room until the trial was over and we were told to discuss. So I took my Kindle and headed for a corner seat on breaks. We broke for lunch and were allowed to go anywhere we liked, again don’t speak to anyone about trial specifics.
After lunch a science expert was brought in, and it was her testimony that convinced me the defendant wasn’t telling the truth. In the mid-afternoon the testimony was done and off we went to come up with a verdict on three charges. Shortly after we started to discuss the testimony it was apparent we needed a leader, and much to my chagrin I was selected the jury foreman.
It didn’t really take us long to decide looking back on it. Mostly everyone was in agreement. Some had questions, some felt bad about giving a guilty verdict because of how the defendant would be affected, others were bitter about law enforcement for their own personal reasons. After about an hour of discussion, and a number of votes by show of hand, we were done. We were led back into the court and there really was no pomp and circumstance like on TV. As the foreman I just handed the papers with our decision to the bailiff, who gave it to the judge.
We were each questioned individually if we agreed with the verdict, and it had to be unanimous. I thought one guy might retract, but he didn’t. People thought they might see the defendant in the hallway on the way out, the bailiff reassured us we wouldn’t, he was going straight to jail from this courtroom. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 – LOL. When it was all done I really felt like he had a fair trial by a jury of his peers.
We were escorted out of the building and I was home by dinner! All in all it was interesting and a learning experience. I have to say everyone in that courtroom was very respectful and mindful of our time commitment as citizens. We were treated with the utmost reverence. The judge, bailiff, attorneys and other officials in the court were professional and most courteous to us. Suffice it to say I felt honored and appreciated that day, like I’ve not ever felt before. It was good and the streets were a little safer that day.
- Serving Jury Duty – Why I chose my kids over adult interaction | Babble (babble.com)
- Jury Duty Jury Duty (shannon2marie.wordpress.com)