I spent yesterday in Jury Duty. It is such an interesting human experiment to see the different types of individuals that live in your county. You witness a mixture of age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic ranges, not to mention differing degrees of education. Somehow I have been to jury duty at least four times in the last ten years, yet my husband has been once. How is that even possible? They told us yesterday that selection is completely random, and that you can only serve every two years. I feel like they summon me the day after my two-year mark renews.
Jury Duty fascinates me for a few reasons. First, I love to people watch, and am always curious how individuals are going to react in different situations. During college I debated about going to law school, and while that never happened, jury duty is my closest connection to a courtroom. Lastly, I believe that as Americans there are very few things we are asked to do as citizens, and jury duty is one of them. If I was ever in a trial by jury, I would want to know that I was having a fair trial, and so I feel that it is my responsibility to do the same if I was ever selected for a jury panel.
The verdict from my day at jury duty? After many hours of sitting, plus a horrible video about the judicial system in my county, I was selected as the third individual on a panel for a criminal theft case. I was sitting front row, center. Each lawyer asked us quite a few questions, and based on the answers it showed clearly that many of us had a vague understanding of law, probable cause, etc. In the end, I was the third juror to be allowed to go home. We never find out why we are not selected, but my assumption is that my passionate answer to one of their questions threw me out of the running. Many times people try to get out of jury duty, but due to my increased curiosity that was not my intent.
The jury room coordinator was right when she told us that you start the day with the extreme desire to leave and go about your life, but that once you are in a courtroom that desire vanishes and you find that you want to know more. It was bittersweet for me. It was nice to know I would not have to stay late into the evening (they warned us this case would either go late, or resume again today), but once you are engaged in the process there is a craving to know more. In the end, I can only hope they found the right jurors for the case.
I am free of my civic duty for another two years, so if my streak continues I will be back at the courthouse on April 13, 2015.
Do you have any jury duty experiences to share?