Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jury Duty

Something I Bitch About, But Wouldn't Give Up!

Everyone makes jokes and complains about Jury Duty.
Some of us actively try to get out of our obligation to serve on a jury.
Others understand the importance of participating in this vital element to our judicial system.
Though I am not completely comfortable with serving on a jury, I know if I were in the position of the plaintiff or defendant then I'd value the gift of a jury.
This is a constitutional right that is complained about, but one that is important; a foundation of our country and our American culture.
I was summoned for jury duty for the second time in my life.  I wasn't thrilled when I got the mail that day, but I knew how important it was for me to commit to my civil duty.
I thought about how I felt.  I realized that I was excited to be involved in such an essential part of our democratic government, but I was just really uncomfortable with the whole process.  I don't like waiting around to see if I am even needs because I want to spend my time in a worthwhile manner.  I don't like being locked in a crowded room and then wondering if I will be rejected...  or worse; selected for a jury.
I think that jury duty is difficult because you never know what to expect.  Plus, I think about how subjective "truth" really is, especially in a court of law.
The level of the court you get assigned to will alter "truth" - well, your perception of who's "right" and who's "wrong" at the very least.  By this, I mean, how you look at the evidence will be dictated by the guidelines given to the jury.  This will depend on if the case if civil or criminal and how they are classified within those choices.
I realized today that the stakes of a case and the degree of evidence could and would alter my opinion.  The two cases I've been involved in showed me why the different levels exist and how they are used.  It was an interesting experience for me and one I'm not sure I like.
I don't like having to decide someone's fate.  I don't like feeling like I might be missing something important that might influence my opinion or definitively prove a case.  I don't like worrying if I'm wrong in how I interpreted things or understood the data given to me.
In the case I was in today, a proper verdict dictated 5 of 6 juror to agree.  We had a lively debate about the evidence and "facts" of the case.  We all clearly saw the mistakes made on both sides of the table and how their lawyers influenced the mood of the trial, but our job wasn't to find a conclusive winner, but to chose who had less fault.  As one juror pointed out, our job wasn't to decide "beyond reasonable doubt" as in a criminal case; it was about "preponderance of evidence."  
This definition allowed us to look at the evidence in a new way.  We all agreed that if it was "beyond reasonable doubt" then we'd all decide differently, but in the end, it was about a perception of events and not a judgement on doubt. 
Overall, the case was ridiculous and none of us felt like it should have escalated to the point that it was brought to the court room.
The whole situation today caused me to have a profound epiphany; something that made the whole "jury duty" issue take on a new connotation for me.  I realized that this annoying life disruption is a right all our citizens have.  It doesn't matter how small a situation, we all have a right to our "day in court" and a "jury of peers."
It's a right all Americans are blessed with and something that not all peoples of the world have.
I will still joke about "not being smart enough to get out of jury duty, but the truth is that I don't want to.  I am honored to uphold this civil right and to serve my community; nay, my country!
 Yep, I just used the word "nay" in a sentence!

Embrace your civic duty with thankfulness!

No comments:

Post a Comment