Friday, June 12, 2009

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

In all my life I had never been selected for Jury Duty, until I moved to Visalia. Since I've been here I have been selected once a year for every year of residence. This usually means I spend a day with a good book in a large room of people who are really not happy to be there.

This time was the first time I actually had my name called, and was send down the hall. This time was the first time I was seated in a courtroom and witnessed the selection process. This time was the first time I was selected.

I was selected reasonable early in the process, asked to review a paper containing twenty questions and asked if I had a yes answer to any of them. I did, in fact I had several and was so sure I would be disqualified. Which I was not.

Hind sight is 20/20 and I listen in amazement to some the reasons and excuses for not being eligible for jury duty. The most impressive was the economy. He claimed to be so concerned with the economy that he was certain he would not be able to focus on the trial and be able to serve without bias based on his own interests.

I was an amateur in the presence of greatness.

When the long difficult yet incredibly entertaining process was done we were given a briefing on the subject of the trial, the only detail I am comfortable indicating is that it was criminal. That night at home I explored the fear I was feeling. At first I didn't want to be bothered by Jury Duty, didn't want to be stuck in a room for hours.

Other people had valid reasons, a funeral, a surgery, responsibilities and obligations. I actually didn't have any serious scheduling conflicts, I just didn't want too. I wanted to watch. I wanted to listen. By the end of the day I was so interested in the case I would have returned even if I had not been selected, just to know.

But I did not want to sit on the jury. I work closely with inmates in their environment, they are not let out into my area, I go into theirs. Late that night I realized I didn't want the responsibility of deciding his fate because I have an intimate knowledge of a guilty verdict.

It was difficult to keep my mouth shut. No doubt anyone who knows me well is laughing. But it was so hard. So hard to not ask a question, so hard not to point out an inconsistency. So hard not to talk to the other Jurors on breaks. We were not allowed to discuss the case in any way shape or form until deliberations. Stop laughing.

By the time we sat down for the first time, I was convinced of my position on all counts and was not going to be swayed from it, I knew it. But what was everyone else thinking? Was I the only one? Was I going to be the deadlocker? How sure was I, did I have the intestinal fortitude to hold out no matter what everyone else thought?

We will never know, because it never came to that.

Deliberations lasted less than a half hour, ten of us were rock solid and two had some questions. I was not alone, it was unanimous.

Justice has prevailed and I will sleep so good tonight.

Blessed Be.


Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

Sounds like you had a very interesting day.

Zandria Zatara said...

Lucky! They won't allow you to read, write, txt, or anything but sit and listen when you get called here.