Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Word On Jury Duty After A Solid Two Weeks Complaining About the Possibility of Having to Serve

Truthfully, I feel a bit ashamed of myself.

I got called in yesterday (Tuesday). Lo and behold, I was selected to serve. It was the first time ever for me.

It was a criminal case--domestic violence and burglary. The accused was a meek man in his mid-thirties who continually shook his head and stared down at the table he was seated at with his attorney, who was almost certainly a public defender. His ex-girlfriend claimed he broke into her RV late one night last summer and beat her up, then stole from her as he left.

The prosecutor trotted out witnesses, showed us photos of her trauma, taken by urgent care, and then took the testimony of the detective who had taken the case.

The defending attorney brought out the rebuttal witnesses.

By the time it was over it was 5 pm. I'd spent all day in that courtroom.

I came home utterly emotionally spent. I slept like a dead man. But I kept having very sad, tragic dreams. I know why. Both the accused and his accuser, and the witnesses and family, have absolutely horrible, tragic lives. They are almost to a person shackled by drug addiction and alcoholism. They are dirt-poor and going nowhere. My hearts went out to all of them.

We of the jury met this morning to deliberate the case. It only took us an hour to arrive at a verdict, which was not guilty on both counts. The defendant's ex's story simply didn't add up. The public defender did a brilliant job establishing reasonable doubt. Our decision was unanimous.

The defendant's mother broke into tears when we announced our verdict. His accuser and her friends were nowhere to be seen, as though having attempted to snow us, they retired back to their sad digs, ready to drum up more trouble and drama.

It was all quite heartbreaking to me.

Here's something I need to say at the end of it. I will no longer bitch and moan about being called to serve--as in ever again. It was an honor to serve, and at the end of it I was almost sorry, despite the tragedy of the case, that it was over. If I'm called again, I will be more than happy to do my part. We all complain--me especially--that we don't have a voice in our society, in what happens. When we get the chance, we do everything to pass the chance on. Of over a hundred people called to serve on this case, only twenty-five of us showed up. The rest blew it off. That's chancy--the court can and does issue bench warrants against people who do--but that percentage illustrates the very malaise that is eating our society from the inside, and which, perversely, got a load of crap like Donald Trump into office.

Just my two cents. Thanks for listening.

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