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.

2 comments:

  1. Good for you it really is interesting in it? I didn’t know about a trial with six jurors. Mine was bigger, bigger room too and longer 3 months. Be glad you are off the list! For now :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah haha! I was relieved too cause I don't have unlimited childcare.

      Delete