Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jury Duty

Jury Duty. What a strange world that is. I have been hogtied to our county's judicial processes since the beginning of June, and am discovering that there is much that is solid and logical about it, and much that is open to interpretation as to good or not, a waste of time or a boon to society.

Once you are a juror you are only truly alone in the ladies' room. If you wish to go out, to travel to the cafeteria, or even just pass through the corridors, you have a bailiff alongside. Most of them are personable, amiable, and quite fixed in what they (and you) can and cannot do.

The importance of being on a jury in small cases like this was never made clearer than it was today. It was a small domestic dispute that had blown up into something much larger--second degree assault with a knife--the kind of thing police and judges take very seriously. To us, it was obvious the entire incident was just that, a minor incident, but exacerbated by witnesses who had a vested interest in it on a personal level. However, even though as jurors we could see that this was a minor scuffle that had gotten blown out of proportion, to the people involved it was very serious, and painful to deal with in such a public venue.

So we had to put our own egos aside, and our own prejudices and slants, and think about how important this was to them.

What made me feel good about it all was that when we went into deliberation, it took no more than five minutes to realize we were all in agreement, and five minutes more to figure out why. Interestingly enough, we all had different reasons as to why we thought it should be an 'innocent' verdict.

Whatever works, whatever works.

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