Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jury Duty

Two weeks ago I had jury duty. This was the farthest I have ever made it in the juror process. I was one of the 26 potential jurors and they lead us through several hours of questions. The case was a criminal case - 2 men charged with assault, shooting a firearm at a building, and drive-by shooting. I found the entire process fascinating, hearing all the questions and others' answers and the judge's explanations. One interesting discussion was between the judge and another juror and a lawyer about if they felt they could/should pass judgement on another person. I really liked the judge's explanation about how people are presumed innocent and so as a juror it was not his job to judge this person, but rather the evidence presented by the state. I was also interested in the different attorneys there and watching their personalities and how they spoke and presented themselves.

We began at 9 am. We broke for lunch from 12-1:30. After lunch we finished the questioning and then the judges and lawyers spoke privately and chose the 14 jurors (12 + 2 extras) that would serve for this case. In the end I was relieved to finally be excused at 3:30 pm. This was a Tuesday and the trial was expected to go until the next Wednesday. That would have meant several days to try to find babysitters for Seth and Rhianna and Rand after school. Just inconvenient.

In all it was an interesting break to the usual day that I have. Again it was so nice to have good friends that watched the kids that day. The case was a few years old, which seems like a long time to finally get around to the trial. I was impressed with the system and especially how positively and methodically the judge seemed to approach things. I imagine she sees some very hard parts of our society, but from my perspective, did not let that stress or overwhelm her.