Saturday, February 27, 2010
Juror or Judged?
I am sure it has happened to everyone, you open your mailbox and there it sits. A jury duty summons. And I am sure your reaction is the same as mine.."Oh hell!! I don't want to serve Jury Duty!"
I took the darn thing into the house, opened it up, noted the date and stuck it to the fridge with a magnet.
I called in Sunday night and could not believe they wanted me at 8am Monday morning, so I went to the website and yep, sure enough, I was going to jury duty at 8am Monday, ugggg.
Now I understand that with freedom there is responsibility, that our justice system only works if we each do our part, but I still don't like jury duty and I am going to delve into WHY I do not like it.
Everyone checks in, names are called and panels are taken to court rooms, so far everything is cool, comical even, and an opportunity to observe people. The trouble for me is once we are in a court room.
Remember no one volunteered , no one sent in a resume to be a professional juror, we are in a court room because we received an official summons in the mail, yet we are treated by the system as if we are criminals. If you do not answer when roll is called, the court can swear out a warrant for your arrest, what?? I was in the ladies room (I was here and ready at 1:30pm and by 2pm we weren't in the courtroom and I needed to pee, how was I to know that's when you would decide to call us into the room?)
There is a lot of hurry up and wait, waiting outside the courtroom for minutes and sometimes hours as mysterious activities are happening inside the courtroom.
Then there is the dread, dread of being called to the jury box to be a juror and the dread of NOT being called. Once you are interviewed you are either picked to be a juror or deemed unworthy and excused and go back to the juror room to either wait to be sent home or called to another courtroom. Until you are called to the box and interviewed you must sit in the courtroom, listen to regular folks stories and endure the boredom , irritation and frustration of the process.
Once you are called to the juror box the judge starts asking questions, and the defendant/s are sitting right across from you and sometimes the victims families are also in the courtroom. I am going to tell you I heard some very personal, private and heartbreaking information from prospective jurors, information that most people do not share with their best friends. The prosecuting attorney gets a chance to question you , dig a little deeper, poking and prying and lastly the defense attorney gets his chance.
What is your profession?
Your spouse or significant other?
Have you or anyone close to you ever been charged with a crime?
Have you or anyone close to you ever been a victim of a crime?
(the court wants specifics, names of crimes, year, plea or jury trial, etc)
Now I just want to know, WHO IS ON TRIAL??? because to me, I am convinced the citizen doing his/her duty was the one on trial, judged, pried open and violated.