I don’t have links for today, well I do, but not three I really want to put together for a post. I’m still catching up from my two days at the courthouse serving as juror. For the first time in my life and on the third summon I got picked for a 12-man jury as the 12th man. There were two alternates, so I was actually juror number 12 of 14. I wasn’t really all that upset when I got picked. It was certainly an inconvenience, but it was an interesting experience nonetheless.
Monday I got to the courthouse with about 150-200 people. We went through roll call, which consisted of giving our name, place of work, job and spouses place of work. After that the process of eliminating those who couldn’t server for various reasons was conducted. After a good chunk of the jury candidates had been excused for various reasons, we went through a process of answering questions that might pertain to the case:
“Do you know this list of people?”
“Have you ever been the victim of this crime?”
“Do you have any legal training or education?”
“Do you know anyone working in the police force?”
“Have you served before on a jury?”
And so on. After that point, the real fun began. They took the list of remaining names and put them through a computerized process that randomized the names and spit them out on a sheet of paper. Each person that was called was to walk to the front of the courtroom turn around and face the back of the room. The prosecution would either present or excuse the person. If you were presented the defense would either excuse or swear the person into the jury. I was highly entertained at this process as people around me and throughout the courtroom shifted uncomfortably and prayed they wouldn’t be selected. It was like a game show!
I take life as it is, so I wasn’t going to be upset if my name was called, however, I didn’t necessarily want to spend what could potentially be a week at a courthouse listening to lawyers persuade me one way or the other. People were called up, some were selected others were excused. Those that were picked sulked to their seats in the jury box; those that were not picked gave a sigh of relief and grin as the contained their urge to skip back to their seat. I had a feeling I would be called, but we were on the potential 12th juror and my name wasn’t called.
Another…Timothy De Block. Shoot.
I walked to the front of the room trying to be as tall as I could, as imposing as I could. I got to the front and thought about doing a military about face, but decided to just turn around. I tried to do my best military stare, but ended up looking at the prosecution table.
Stare straight ahead. Stare straight ahead. I hear whispers and look at the defense table and their looking at a notepad with four columns that contained various ‘X’s. I might get out of this afterall! The male defense lawyer looks at me then goes back to whispering with his female associate. I try to look ahead but I’m drawn to what they’re answer is going to be. A shrug, then:
“Swear in the juror”
Those that hadn’t had their name called, yet, gave out a sigh of relief. I felt like things slowed down a little bit as I turned towards the jury box instead of back to my seat. I had to grin a little as I made my way to the 12th seat and a juror button. Two more still needed to be selected, but those were alternates with less responsibilities and I imagine many felt like they had a good shot of getting out of the courtroom without being picked.
A cheer went up when the judge said that no one else would be needed for the rest of the week, which was typically not the case. If you weren’t picked you had to call in the evening to see if you needed to show up at the courthouse the next day for a different trial that would require a jury. Lucky for them there was only one case for this week and the jury had been picked for that case. They were free to go about their business. The rest really isn’t all that interesting, nor is the day of the trail, though I may still write on it. We were informed of the process and what we should expect the next couple days. It was believed that this would be a relatively short trial and it ended up being just that.
I know most people think of jury duty as an annoyance and an inconvenience, but after having gone through the experience it was anything but that. Of course the trial I served was only one day and the judge was absolutely fantastic. He tried to keep things light, which I think helped with the whole process. And my boss was extremely thankful that I was returning to work Wednesday, after finding out I wouldn’t be gone all week. It was certainly an experience and a good one, I think. The judge said that serving on the jury was the second highest honor next to serving your country. I believe that, and I’m glad I’ve gotten to do both.