Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Wanna But I Don't Wanna Be a Juror

I had to appear at the courthouse this morning as a prospective juror on a civil case. It took only three hours (roll my eyes) into the process before I could convey to judge and the attorneys that I have medical treatment every third Wednesday and would not be able to serve those days. Even though the current schedule for the trial precludes those days, they still excused me from serving.

On one hand I'm happy to be excused since it means I won't have to be shuffling my calendar and I'll be able to make a visit to our granddaughter's home (out of state) as planned.

But on the other hand, I've never served on a jury before and I would have found it extremely interesting. Even the jury selection process itself was interesting. There were approximately 50 of my fellow citizens who appeared at the courthouse this morning. It amazed me that 50 people could wake up, look at their calendar, and remember, "Aha! I have to be at the courthouse today!".

Two of us asked the clerk what happens if someone fails to show up. Her answer? They would be subject to fine and a "contempt of court". And if processed of jury selection left the court with only 7 instead of 8 jurors, the sheriff would be dispatched to the missing person's home to bring them to court to serve. But what was really surprising to me was that if they still lacked the required number of jurors, the sheriff could actually bring in someone off the street to serve on the jury.

I said, "The moral to that is to not linger near the courthouse!" And everyone laughed.

Since our county is small in terms of population, most trials here are completed in a few days time. It's not as if a jury would be sequestered for well over a year as in that infamous murder trial in California some years ago that was on TV night after night. No, this trial will be short and sweet. And I really would have enjoyed serving.

There's something reassuring about observing the rule of law as it is played out. The plaintiff has a fair day in court to explain his reason for bringing his case to a jury. The defendant has equal access to fairness in terms of producing evidence on his own behalf. Guidelines are in place. The law is clear. All parties are instructed as to how the case will proceed and under what parameters in terms of evidence, testimony, time frame, etc. The case will be decided by eight jurors who live and work here, who may indeed know one or both parties to the case, and who are members of a community that desires fairness for all. The system sets in place guidelines to ensure that all jurors are fair, unbiased, and able.

It would have been interesting to not only observe, but to also be a participant in the process that we call justice. There's something reassuring about justice. And in a courtroom scene, it is judgment that pronounces justice.

All that reminds me of John 5:24 wherein Jesus states, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Justice will be served. But in this case, the justice was served at the cross for all who belong to God. And since justice was served and since we are justified already by Christ's work at the cross, we do not come into judgment. We have passed out of death. We have moved into the kingdom of light. And we have life.

There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1.


Karen L. Holmes said...

I really liked this post. Although I've never been called to serve on a jury before, I would find it to be quite interesting, I'm sure. Thanks for relating your post to Scripture!

Cat Rocketship said...

I want to be a juror!

I have a friend who has been called THREE TIMES to be a juror in Ames. He could easily tell them, Hey, I just was a juror-- let me out! But he's very much about societal rules so he keeps serving. He sees it as his duty.

But he's had some interesting cases. I'm jealous.

Laurie M. said...

I get called up every two years like clockwork, but have only sat on a jury once, that was almost two years ago. (Guess I'm about due again.) It was a very satisfying process. Our trial took two or three days, and would have been more difficult were it not for the fact that we only decided guilt or innocence, not sentencing. They gave us rules for what we could consider or not,and they actually worked! Someone would suggest something that was bothering them. Someone else would say, "well, we're not allowed to consider that", and the person would say, "well, in that case, it's simple, I think...." This would happen over and over until we had a consensus. I think we were all satisfied with the verdict, though we all likely hoped, in our particular case that the sentence would end up being lenient, because the guilty party had suffered greatly already for poor choices that had not harmed anyone else. But, as I said, that was not our responsibility. We decided whether the person had done what he was accused of, and were sent on our merry way. I never tried to find out what sentence was issued.

Daria said...

I too was called only once to jury duty while I was cancer treatment but had some forms filled out by oncologist and was cleared.

When going through treatment, I don't feel we'd make good jurors.