The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Experience at Jury Duty

***This post does not include names or other details about any person involved and only about my experience witnessing the judicial process and jury selection.***

I've been summoned before, only this time I actually got called into a courtroom as a potential juror for a trial. Admittedly, I was curious and excited at the chance to see more of what goes on in a courtroom. There were 20 of us; each with a number used for identification. My number was 12. The number only has to do with the order in which you sit in the room and has no impact on whether or not you will be selected as a juror.

In the courtroom there was a judge, a defendant, prosecutors and defense lawyers. Roles I had only ever seen on TV and in the movies but now was seeing with my own two eyes. The courtroom was small. Way smaller then probably any courtroom you have ever seen on TV. The jury box had room for six plus an alternate. Fun fact: some trials only have six jurors.

First, the judge asks many questions ranging from do you know the defendant to have you any experience with the alleged crime to whether or not you'd be biased. Meanwhile, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers are all taking notes. Second, the prosecution has ten minutes to question everyone followed by the defense. In summary, every question is geared to figure out if you would be unbiased and impartial, fully able to adhere to the law. This seems simple and you're probably thinking that you would of course be unbiased and able to leave your personal emotions and thoughts out of the case and judge the case solely on the evidence and the law. However, listening to people answer the questions made me realize how much we as a people have so many different experiences, ideas and thoughts on life. I'm left wondering though, if everyone stated they felt that they could probably be unbiased despite personal thoughts, what exactly is the ideal answer? Or the ideal juror? Surely, everyone carries around their personal beliefs and surely most individuals can factually compare evidence to the given definition of a crime impartially. There are so many hypothetical questions asked during the juror questioning session that it was obvious many of us in the room found it hard to give a definitive answer. The lawyers cannot talk about the details of the alleged crime during this session so it's all a little gray.

I could feel my heart thumping out of my chest during most of this process. To be fair, I had a lot on my plate personally and I wasn't in the best mental place. When the defense called my number, 12, I panicked. I literally have no idea what he said. I squeaked out an answer only to have the other defense lawyer ask me to speak up. "I'm sorry, I'm nervous", I quickly blurted out. My voice was shaky. He drilled for more details. I could feel my eyes start to water up as they darted across the room looking for a way out. What in the heck is wrong with me, I thought!

Literally, I was the only one questioned who could barely speak. It is comical to think back on. Apparently, without even really knowing it, I have a fear of public speaking. Especially in front of a room full of strangers and especially regarding a criminal case in an official courtroom. Ah, woe is me. Sometimes I really hate myself.

After the questioning, all of the jurors, except the one person who was excused due to the fact that she already knew the defendant, were taken to the Jury Room. There was barely room for us all as we sat around the table. The feeling was much more relaxed. Maybe 10 minutes had passed, if even. The bailiff returned to escort us back to the courtroom. In a school yard pick starting with the prosecutors, juror members were picked out of the jury box one by one. Each one that was picked out, left the room immediately and was replaced by another. Soon my number had to move into the box but just as quickly as I sat down I was asked to leave.

I'll never know which of my fellow juror members were officially on the jury that day but I did see number 16 walking on the sidewalk outside so I know the lawyers were making their way through the options. There were 20 total.

It was a pleasure acting out my civic duty to our country in service to the judicial system. It is our right in the 6th amendment to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. Remember everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On the Importance of Changing Up Routines

By happy accident or unlucky mishap the kids and I left the house at 6:32pm. A time when on any other evening, the house would be chaotic with the bewitching energy of any house with small kids just before bedtime. A time that is usually my least favorite part of the day. And why is it so? Because it is the last thing I have to get through before I can have my time; my uninterrupted time without children.

We raced out the door headed downtown to get to the tech repair before closing. We made it. Phase 2, get to the electronics store 13 miles away in hopes of finding the right part. Found it. Phase 3, get the kids dinner. Done. It's now 8:30. It's now 1 hour after the normal bedtime. And what are we doing? We're laughing in the car. We're watching a gang of motorcyclists speed down the roadway, four of which were popping wheelies. The glow of the setting sun warms our faces as we head North towards home.

At the end of it all I feel more refreshed than I have all week at least.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Conflict of Interests: Second-hand Goods

Our dumps around the globe are full. A single person truly can make a difference even if it's just by the ripple effect alone. I long to be a better steward of our planet and a better steward of my belongings in general. Part of being a good steward to me means not buying so many things.

Whenever it makes sense, I try to buy second-hand. This generally matches more of my aesthetic anyway (one could argue, any aesthetic could manage with finding the right second-hand fit). Second-hand is often cheaper when looking at the right comps.

Second-hand does have certain draw backs that I have a hard time overcoming. First of which being smell. If you've ever walked into any Value Village or Goodwill store then you know exactly what I mean. The stench in those stores seeps into every single object found. It really is gross and is enough to make me never want to shop there (even though I know there are treasures to be found). The way I overcome this is by shopping second hand on Craigslist, eBay, ETSY or second-hand stores that are more collected and less dumped. eBay and ETSY can be risky though because you don't know for sure if the item(s) will smell but depending on what you're purchasing that may not apply. In the past I've messaged the seller to ask if the item smells.

I've gotten quite good at buying used furniture. Maybe it's the season of life with young kids that has inspired me so. Quality furniture does not need to be bought brand new. In fact, one is probably more likely to find affordable quality furniture used as most brand new furniture these days is disposable, low quality. They really don't make things the way they used to. Things used to be made to last.

Here's where the conflict of interest arises. I want books. I want to buy used books because they are 1)cheaper and 2)environmentally friendly. Certainly, I don't need to buy a brand new copy when there are hundreds of perfectly good used copies floating around. Half Price Books would be a great place to shop (mostly stench free) but there isn't close by. I check Value Village and getting the smell out of books from that place seems an impossible feat. So, I come home, I look on Amazon. Problem: I don't want to buy a gross, smelly old book. Used books that are in "like-new" condition would be ideal but they are usually priced very similar to brand new and for fifty cents, I'm thinking, I might as well have a beautiful, fresh, crisp new version of the book. Before you know it I've just contributed to the mass production of goods and the mass filling of the land-fills in our country and around the world!

Second conflict: used clothing. This to me can be gross. Hand me downs are one thing but buying used clothing from someone I don't know tends to gross me out. Last year, I bought a used shirt on eBay. Overall I would say it was a success. The only drawback being that I use unscented detergent to wash my own clothing so when I come across clothing that is washed with scented detergent the smell is powerful and usually gives me a headache and contributes to the grossness factor. Walking about in a shirt that doesn't smell like me is not comfortable. Needless to say, that shirt was a fail and I resold it on eBay. This year, I bought a used pair of shorts on eBay and this was victorious! I love them and am so very happy that I finally bought a used piece of clothing that works!

Second-hand objects. You win some, you lose some. Ultimately I do my best to make intentional decisions about what I buy and hope that I continue to do as best I can until I can do better. I guess I can't beat myself up about buying a few new books but the principle remains and leaves me feeling like I can do more to make Earth conscious decisions.