Doing my duty

Doing my duty

Earlier this year I was doing one of my favorite things – checking the mail (Don’t laugh – you know you love it too!) As I opened the mailbox, I noticed an official looking letter from the illustrious sheriff of our fine county. I quickly panicked – what had I done that might have caught the attention of local law enforcement? After jump starting my feeble memory, I relaxed realizing that I don’t think any of my recent infractions should have hit the sheriff’s radar. So, I started to get excited. Maybe he was offering me a job or possibly I was going to be named citizen of the year. So I ripped into the envelope and was smacked square in the face with reality – I had been summoned to serve jury duty.

After having my week of service delayed on two occasions because of work commitments, I recently had my chance. Of course, as the nice woman at the clerk of courts reminded me, I had no more delays in my bag of tricks – I had to be there or I would get a not-so-friendly visit from the sheriff. After enduring traffic I didn’t even know existed at an hour of the day I hardly see, I was in a room with about 60 people waiting for what came next. Nervous excitement might have been the best way to describe what we were feeling as we all crammed into a room that certainly was not designed for the number of bodies now inhabiting it.

At last we were herded (no better word to describe what happened) into the court room for the pomp and circumstance that awaits new jurors. After instructions, a video and a swearing-in we were ready to go. And it didn’t take long before I heard my name called and I was introducing myself to the judge and lawyers. As 12 of us settled in, the questions started. And didn’t stop. In fact, I heard the same questions so many times I am certain I was hypnotized and asked to cluck like a chicken in front of the whole courtroom. (I can neither confirm nor deny the previous statement.) After three hours of prying, the defense attorney evidently didn’t like my shirt or something and dismissed me.

After that, I began to realize what jurors actually do when called to serve – sit and wait. And believe me, we did a lot of sitting, a lot of waiting, and lot of wondering why in the world we were there. At times, we had the distraction of being in the courtroom and watching fellow jurors play the million question game. Other times we were crammed in that back room striking up conversations with people who were perfect strangers just days before. But it was during those moments of conversation that I realized the one good thing that I learned while on jury duty – or jury service as the officials like to call it.

You see, the more than 60 people called to serve that week came from all across the county and from all walks of life. They were young and old, from different cultures and socioeconomic statuses – but all were called to perform the same task. Thus, the playing field was leveled and we were all just citizens. Maybe that is why it was so easy to talk to people who I normally would not have struck up a conversation with or approached. But talk we did. I wouldn’t say we became best friends during our moments in the jury waiting area, but I now have a better idea of who shares this chunk of earth with me. And there are some really good people out there and I am glad I met them.

As we were dismissed for the week, the judge thanked us and let us know that the court would not have gotten its business done if we had not been there. I mean if the justice system moves forward because a couple dozen of us sit in a room and talk, so be it. But I do have to thank the county for giving me the opportunity to meet some new people and get to know some “neighbors” that I would not have met without the wonderful invitation from the sheriff. Mind you, I am glad I am exempt for the next two years, but here’s hoping I bump into some of my fellow jurors as I traverse the county. They are good people who did their service – and I am glad I did it with them.


2 Replies to “Doing my duty”

  1. Sounds like you took advantage of the time you had free to socialize. But knowing you, you would not have had it any other way. Your outgoing personality made it impossible for you to just sit and ignore those around you. Glad the experience was beneficial. Suggestion…..maybe the paper would like a citizen’s view of a week of jury duty?

  2. Mom is right – the general public should see your thoughts and observations. When I worked for a judge I received the same piece of mail and asked him what I should do. He reminded me it was my duty to serve and so I did. My first morning on the elevator saw a local (Millersburg) man who worked there. He looked at me and said “what are you doing here – you know you won’t get picked”. Well, he was wrong. I did and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *