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Thursday, December 18, 2008

12/18/08 Jury Duty

This year DH and I were both called to jury duty. I was thinking about this yesterday as I sat in the hospital waiting room without DH (for a procedure DS2 was having)…he was on jury duty- Juror #12 (Last one picked)…as DS2 put it “Leaving me in my time of need!” (funny boy). I’d been called to duty three times before in other cities but I was always traveling for work and no one could take my place, so work always wrote me a note to get me out of it…sweet relief to be honest. But now I’m home, not working, no excuse…I wasn’t sure what I thought about that…I’m pretty patriotic…I can’t make it through 3 lines of “The Star Spangled Banner” without tearing up…I always call my Dad and thank him a on Veteran’s Day…I planned a day in Normandy with a private guide when we took the family to Paris…heck I even rented every Normandy movie ever made and we had Tuesday movie nights with the kids for months in preparation for our trip. So I know it’s my civic duty, but I was dreading this. Maybe I’ve gotten cynical in my almost half-century of life, but I’ve become one of those “don’t have much faith in our judicial system” people. It’s probably all those real court room cases that are on TV these days…so I’ll blame the media for my newfound knowledge of how the judicial system doesn’t always work. Two words come to mind O.J., or is that one bad word? I see people that get off on loop holes and it makes me angry…especially when children are the victims. I’m a pretty tolerant person; I’ve forgiven some pretty serious wrongs in my life especially when the forgiveness is earned…in fact those that know me would say I’m a kind, never-hurt-someone’s-feelings-let-alone-a-fly-on-their-head person. So I don’t like that I’ve gotten to this point, but if someone I loved were harmed by another, I think I would be very tempted to take justice into my own hands. I’m not so sure I would “trust the system”, but maybe, just I would give it a chance.

You see I spent a day on Jury Duty…Jury Selection to be exact. I dressed nicely and got there early. I think I was hoping that then I’d be first to be interviewed and I could just tell them that I have no faith in their silly system and they’d let me go home…hey, I look nice, I would have time now to go window shopping at that fancy new boutique strip mall I’ve been dying to see. So 150 of us packed into a tight chairs-in-rows-room. After an hour and a half of getting to know my neighbors the judge finally came in and told us that 6 of the 8 cases just settled. Then they started to call names and assign them numbers and I soon caught on to the fact that it didn’t matter that I came early. I watched as 50 people left the room never to be seen again and I was pissed they didn’t pick me…what’s wrong with me? Eventually I let the slight go (forgiving remember) and I settled into my oh-so-comfy-NOT stacking chair with a good book. Lunch break we were released and then all us “losers” came back for round two. Another hour and a half and they started calling names again…44, 45, 46…Yeah me…juror number 47! We get to the courtroom and I won’t bore you with all the details, but only the first 12 + 2 alternates are THE jurors for the case unless they get dismissed. The judge is patient and informative and then starts the “Game Show” of “Eliminate the Jurors”! Round 1: “Raise your hand if you know anyone involved in this case.”…hand raised, they bring the sweet old man-juror #3 up and we all hear him proudly describe to the judge how he has known one of the lawyers since he was a little boy…good friends with his dad even…whispers between them…he waddles back with his cane towards us as the judge yells to him “Don’t get too comfortable”…more quick whispers…and before he can sit down… “Juror #3 is dismissed!” He looked startled, then crushed…I felt for him. We all moved up one seat, and more importantly one number. Well, a million more questions and 5 more dismissals and we were done…I was up to being Juror #41…no where NEAR even being asked a question. I was exasperated by then…it’s late afternoon, my bum was sore from sitting in hard court-house chairs all day and they didn’t even need me!

Then the judge said something that I’ll always remember….It was a long impromptu talk about the importance of serving and our coming today…yadda, yadda, yadda...and then she said “God forbid you ever find yourself or someone you love in court (on either side), wouldn’t you want the best people to be there to sit on your jury?” Something about that rang true to me. So yesterday instead of cursing the judicial system for making DH miss his son’s hospital visit…I did what I always do... especially when it’s earned…I forgave them.

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