I reported to Jury Duty for the first time ever (as in my life) a few weeks ago. Somehow I’ve gotten really lucky and never started to get summoned until a few years ago. Back then I had babies at home so I didn’t have to report. Now that my kids are all in school I’m no longer exempt, and despite every effort to avoid Jury Duty (this was my THIRD postponement), I found myself at the court house bright and early.
I didn’t know what to expect, really. I had this idea in my head that we’d all go into a room and they’d ask us a few questions. I’d tell them that being there was a hardship, that I was biased and then they’d send me home by lunch.
It didn’t quite happen that way, and in the end, I left feeling happy, highly relieved, feeling a bit rejected, and humbled. Jury Duty CAN do that, and they have a system in place that works a bit better than I’d imagined.
I had no idea that during the Jury selection process the courtroom would be full of people (mostly other potential jurors) and that the Defendant, the Defense and Prosecuting Attorneys would be there. I guess I thought that only people who had passed some preliminary questioning made it into the courtroom. When I was being questioned, I also didn’t expect to feel so exposed. I didn’t know that there are specific questions that are asked of each potential juror and that the potential jurors were then open to questioning by both the Defense and the Prosecution. I had no idea that the charges of the crime committed would be read to us. I certainly didn’t expect to feel any sort of emotional response to the whole process except irritation at being there.
There were lots of things I didn’t expect, most of all, I didn’t expect to feel a personal civic duty to be there after hearing the judge address us. I went in with such a poor attitude, one of being highly inconvenienced, that when I left I felt both relieved but also like what I had done was not such an inconvenience after all.
I was in the first round of potential jurors to be called and subsequently dismissed. I actually tried to come up with as compelling reasons as I could to make myself look like less than an ideal juror. I told them that getting child care for my children and transportation from school was difficult. I told them that events that happened years ago could influence my ability to judge the evidence clearly. I told them that I knew a Prosecutor within that courthouse personally, knowing that the Defense would probably not be a fan of that information. I told them all of these things because I really, really didn’t want to sit on a jury for the alleged crime. I didn’t want to find someone to take care of my kids. I didn’t want to be stuck in a court room all day, and I really didn’t want to feel like an life altering decision rested in part on my shoulders.
I wanted nothing more than to get dismissed. Yet when I did get dismissed, I felt like I’d been rejected.
I definitely didn’t expect Jury Duty to be emotional.
Yet it was. And I didn’t even DO anything. I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually sit on a Jury. And, I kind of want to now. Just not right now. I have too many things to do.