Everything I know about legal proceedings, I learned on TV. Whether it was reruns of Perry Mason during my childhood or watching Jack Nicholson let us know that we can’t handle the truth, my understanding of what happened in the courtroom was carefully crafted by Hollywood directors.
I’ve heard horror stories from friends-of-friends about getting selected for week-long trials and have been informed many times over on the ins and outs of how to avoid getting selected. From what I gather, leaning as far as you can one way or another on your beliefs seems to be your most plausible way of getting the axe.
I have to wonder though, why is it we pride ourselves as a nation of the just – willing to spout off our views on the rights to a fair trial for everyone – when we wholeheartedly make every effort possible to avoid helping when our name is called? Don’t get me wrong, the thought of spending days (or worse) losing billable hours is not high on my list; but in an hour’s time in the jury room today, I came to a small realization that it is my civic duty and a responsibility I shouldn’t take light-hearted or desire to avoid. I decided that the most responsible thing I could do for my government was to answer wholeheartedly and honestly as possible. Much less, I owed it to the person on trial my best effort to give them a fair shake and could only hope that if [heaven-forbid] I were in a similar situation I would get the same.
The following is my account of my first ever jury summons and appearance. And if you’d prefer the abridged version, yes, I was selected. (more…)