July 12, 2014 So here I sit in a room in my state’s criminal courthouse. I was served a summons to appear for jury duty and I’m here now killing some time while I wait for instructions along with a quite varied group of other people who have all shown up to the courthouse with summons in hand.
As I’ve mentioned jury duty to people, I have often received suggestions for how to get out of it and sure, there is a little part of me that doesn’t want the inconvenience of it possibly interfering with our existing summer plans, but there is a bigger part of me that feels that it is my duty to show up and serve. And somehow it seems fitting to do so now that I am living back in America full-time.
Brief time later….
So the judge just spoke to us and she acknowledged that it was a gorgeous Friday in July and that she knew that most people were wishing they were anywhere but here. And that’s when she said something that struck me. She said that many of the people in this room would not have even been eligible to serve, let alone considered worthy jurors, in the not so distant past and that we should remember that people had fought for that important right. And you know what, as I looked around, I think she’s right.
So, now I’m kind of liking the prospect of being chosen, of being a part of something bigger than myself. Yes, I still have to admit that I hope that if I’m called, it won’t be a time frame that messes up our plans and that the trial doesn’t go on for too long, but there’s a part of me that hopes that I do get to be a part of this process. I know it’s not a perfect process and that it does not always run as it was intended to, and I am probably showing a certain naiveté but, you see, I’ve just come from another place where things are run very, very differently and I’m glad to be from a country that holds as a part of its values a just legal system.
Bit later still…
Well, a little while ago I got called into a courtroom along with some other potential jurors, heard a brief explanation of the case and the names of people involved and a potential timeframe for the case. We then had a chance to complete a form listing any conflicts we saw. There weren’t really any big ones for me. And yet, I was one of the first three people to get dismissed – not even questioned at all by the lawyers! And I wonder…why not me? Was it my job? My gender? My age? That’s about all the information they had on me and yet it was a quick decision for them. Oh well, I guess I’ll just never know. I have to admit, I felt a tiny bit disappointed to be dismissed so quickly though it was nice to leave early on this beautiful day. And overall, I also have a sense of satisfaction at playing my part in this process and fulfilling one of the few obligations asked of us as Americans.