Doing your duty
I’ll have jury duty for two weeks and unfortunately I can’t discuss what cases I’ve heard on social media. However, they didn’t mention discussing how I felt about the ordeal. Believe me, it’s so frustrating that I can’t share details of certain cases because it’s so fascinating—not so much the cases themselves, but the some cases that actually are heard daily!
I became a U. S. citizen a few years ago, in college. I remembered debating whether I should have become one or not. I realized later that I had come to love the country I resided in and had no plans of actually leaving. Jury duty is just part of the services required of you as a citizen.
I knew I would have been called for jury duty eventually, but it had been a matter of when and where (I’ve moved so much). Last year I selected in April but had to postpone since my marathon was coming up. However, a few weeks ago I got summoned once again.
A Grand Juror.
Grand jurors don’t work on trials. In fact, I won’t experience what you see in the courtroom on tv shows like Law and Order. Grand Jurors decide whether someone is indicted or not. They don’t determine guilt. They ponder upon the evidence provided by witnesses about whether someone could be guilty. This is determined if there’s reasonable evidence. After this experience I’ll have a better understanding of how the law works on that.
In fact, prior to this, my ignorance about the justice system hadn’t made me realize that there’s actually a peer group who determines whether a case makes it to trial. Now I know, if I ever have to sue someone. No wonder years ago my lawyer found it easier to settle out of court instead of suing a company for me (oh, you don’t know this story?—One I’m not allowed to share.)
The idea that more than 12 out of 23 people have to vote on a case, or not, is interesting to me. We don’t deliberate in front of the prosecutor to come up with a decision. We can create a true bill or dismiss the case entirely. What could have been or what the person did prior has nothing to do with it. For example, if someone stole your property, the fact that he was a career criminal might not be a factor in the deciding whether he is indicted—that’s for the trial. However, if your wallet was missing and there’s footage, as long as he was arrested and positively identified in the footage, he will be indicted. This is also done by our memory or evidence marshalled from the prosecutor’s notes. So, imagine relying on memory if days went by!
Anyway, back to the example: He could also be dismissed if more than 12 jurors don’t think there’s enough evidence. It’s quite troubling that there’s a possibility that it could happen despite there being no reasonable doubt that he had done it.
That’s the system. We were given juror handbooks that you can read here. Was quite the wakeup call to me. I’ll have to say, I’m happy that I hadn’t decided to study law but don’t be surprised if I have some sort of intrigue for the next few weeks/months. I lucked out because if I had been called 2 weeks prior, I would have been there for 3 months! So, for the next week I’ll be at court. There’s also a very high stakes case going on with trial jurors that I’m super curious about but haven’t visited. However, I see people with signs outside about cops. It’s very disheartening.
Have you ever served on a jury?