This Writers Life: Civic Duty

shutterstock_380003077I know that last week I said I was back, and I really truly meant it. I know I missed Monday and Wednesday, and I have a good reason. Have you ever been summoned for Jury Duty? That’s exactly what happened to me this week.

I had never been summoned for Jury Duty before. I didn’t really want to go, since I had just started my new job, but I didn’t have a choice. So, I went. Bright and early Tuesday Morning, I was to be at the court house at 7:30am.

When I arrived there was at least 70 other people there as well. I thought that the odds were looking pretty good that I wouldn’t be chosen. We were there all day, split into different panels, answering questions, and waiting, a lot of waiting. Finally, for those of us that hadn’t already been dismissed from duty, we were told to return the next day at 9:00am. There were 17 of us at that point.

Still liking my odds, since they only needed 7 jurors, I didn’t complain too much. Not at all out loud, just in my head, and then to my husband and anyone who would listen when I got home. So, I returned the next day and this time we were to be asked questions by the two sets of attorneys in the case the jury was needed for.

They walked us into the court room and immediately I recognized the prosecuting attorney. I knew him, worked with him; I should not be on this jury. The Judge then asked if any of us knew the prosecuting attorneys, through occupation or personal, and I immediately raised my hand. I explained to the Judge that I knew him and had worked with him for several years.

I was not dismissed at that point like I thought I would be. The Judge thanked me for my honesty and then both sets of attorneys started their questioning of the panel to determine the final 7 jurors. When the questions ended, they lead all of us back out into the hall while the Judge and Attorneys discussed who would be the final jurors.

While in the hall I thought for sure I would not be picked. How could they fairly try a case with me on the jury? That would be a conflict of interest. I was certain that the defense attorney would ask for my removal, as it might jeopardize her case with a juror who knew the opposing counsel.

We were in the hall for about 20 min before they called us back in. Then, they called my name. “This is it, this is where they tell me I’m dismissed and my services are no longer needed.” That’s what went through my head since I was the first called.

“Please have a seat in the juror box seat 1.”

What? Really? You can’t be serious. I’m sure that’s exactly what was on my face when I heard the Judge tell me to have a seat in the Jury Box.

Still, I did as instructed while they called six more names. Once done they told everyone else they were dismissed. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. How and why did they choose me as a juror? Especially given the fact that I knew the attorney and had worked with him at another firm this can’t be right. But, it was, I was, and the trial was to be that day.

So the trial began. We heard witness statements, audio evidence, and from the defendant. We were given instructions and sent into the Jury room. We didn’t take long, it was a simple case. All of us were in agreement from the moment we walked into that room. We discussed, agreed, and flipped the light to let them know we had reached a verdict.

We were brought back out to the jury box and handed over the verdict. It was read, there were tears, and we were thanked and dismissed to go home. In the end, I’m still in shock that they kept me on the jury. Though, it didn’t harm the defense’s case, seeing as they won.

All in all though, it wasn’t a bad experience. There was a lot of waiting, sure, but it was still interesting. I was even given a little pin as a thank you from the court. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but I am glad I had the experience.

How about you all? Have you ever had jury duty? Were you picked to sit on a jury? How was your experience? And, what are your thoughts on them keeping my on the jury, even though there could have been a conflict of interest, or even bias (there wasn’t, but there could have been if I were someone else)?