I’ll never forget my short trek to the mailbox that day routinely foraging the box for the bills and magazines when I saw the little beige postcard telling me that I had been scheduled for jury duty. “Wow, I guess I can’t get out of it this time.” I thought. Up until late 2011, my nursing job had very conveniently shielded me from performing my civic duty. Well, this time, with the hospital closure, I couldn’t use that excuse. So, I couldn’t get out of it; I had to join in with scores of other folks who had probably gotten the same little yellow invitation. Well, I wasn’t doing anything anyway, so I let my mind wander as I conjectured what the experience would hold. “Why not?” I thought. So, I mentally prepared myself for spending some time at the courthouse. I then armed myself with reading material (several friends tipped me off about the waiting) and prepared myself for whatever came my way.
The Day arrives
That Jury Monday was a rainy and overcast day. I arose as usual at 6:00am as if I were going to work; however, I really had more time than on a work day because I usually had to be at work for the seven o’clock shift. Anyway, I left at about 7:30am.
As I drove the quarter-mile distance from my home to the courthouse, I pondered what the day might hold. Then, it really occurred to me what a big responsibility jury duty actually was: verdicts by this group of people could and would affect the rest of someone’s life. Suddenly feeling very important, I then eagerly sought out the designated “Juror Parking” area. I left the car, collected the ticket and proceeded through the entranceway for jurors.
After checking in, I was given a badge and directed to sit in a large conference room with dozens of disgruntled citizens who complained about having to be there. It was indeed a large number of folks; at least three conference rooms were filled to capacity. Shortly after, we got instructions about the day, the pride and history of jury duty, and the entire court case interview and selection process. We were sternly advised not to leave before being dismissed or we would incur the wrath of the courts.
The Abrupt Conclusion
After the pep talk, we were directed where to get coffee, tea and the location of the bathrooms. After sitting around a few minutes chatting with other folks, names were called. Conversations abruptly ceased. I braced myself to hear my name. I waited and waited. My name was never called. I actually felt a little relieved. About thirty or so minutes later, names were called again. For the second time, I braced myself to hear my name. Silence. Finally, in less than twenty minutes after the second set of names were called, an announcement was made to all prospective jurors that we could go home since they had booked too many people. I glanced at a clock, it wasn’t even eleven yet!
My Impression of the day
The day was over so quickly and abruptly that I had to ask myself why they even ordered me to come. Anyway, I immediately tried to look to the positive by asking myself what I had learned. In retrospect, the experience gave me a quick glimpse into the history of jury duty and the grand privilege and responsibility of sitting on a jury panel and making important decisions based on the facts and the explanation of the law. Lives have been changed and even lost as a result of being on a jury.