I went through the whole process of selection and was narrowed down to a list of potential jurors. Both the prosecution and the defense asked me point blank questions. I guess I didn’t sound too stupid because I was the very first person chosen.
I was ambivalent about serving. On the one hand, I felt it my civic duty. On the other hand, I desperately despise wasting time. There was a lot of waiting involved. It was hot and crowded too.
When our group was narrowed down, we were finally allowed inside the courtroom where it was much cooler. There the judge and lawyers began to preach about how important this was and why we were such good citizens for coming in. At this point I wondered how often they had recited those speeches.
The one thing that surprised me was that not only did the judge introduce everyone in her court, but even the defendant was introduced.
They warned us not to read the paper or Google the defendant. Truth be told, his name was uttered so rapidly I couldn’t tell you who he was, let alone Google his name.
The defendant was on trial for assaulting a police officer. Considering how charged our climate has been about assaults on the police, especially after the incident last year in Dallas, I imagine it was hard for them to select an impartial jury.
What really divided us was whether we were comfortable (without yet hearing the evidence) to sentence this man from probation to 10 years in jail. Quite a few people voiced opposition to sentencing. They were okay with hearing the trial, but not with doling punishment.
In the end though, we never got the chance to hear the case. They settled on a lesser charge that resulted in a misdemeanor rather than the felony we would’ve had to hear. If we had wanted to, the judge said we were welcome to come into court to watch the rest of the proceedings. Not a single one of us stayed.
We were all rather chatty while we were isolated though. We talked about where we lived and what we did for a living. There was lots of talk of fishing and raising livestock.
Other than the waiting, it was kind of nice to see how the justice system operated. It’s not nearly as tense or dramatic as they show on tv. The judge was quite friendly yet professional. She also made sure we had plenty of snacks.
The only time she wasn’t quite so friendly was on the first day when we were dismissed for lunch and asked to come back later that day. Six people didn’t come back and deputies were sent out to arrest them.
They found four of the six, and they sat in the back of the court during the entire proceeding. After we were dismissed for the day, the four were required to have a little talk with the judge. I doubt it was a pleasant conversation.
My day in court was over, but I’m anxiously waiting to hear if Greg is going to be picked for a jury. That very same week, he received a letter for Federal Court! I’ve never known anyone on a federal jury. I kind of hope he gets picked just so I can hear about his experience.
Time will tell.
If you’ve been on a jury, was your experience similar to mine? Have you ever been on a federal jury?