I got this jury notice. I don’t even remember when it came, but I was supposed to report last Monday.
The card always says to call their recording after 5:30 on the Friday before report time, to see if we actually have to report. I called. We had to.
My jury duty history has been rather spotty. When Kevin was a toddler, I got a summons, and there’s an exemption if you have a child at home with no one else to care for him. So I circled that one and sent it back. Then we moved to Lubbock for a year. Then we lived in a rental house for a couple of years. Then we moved into the house we bought. So, I’d forgotten about juries. I guess they lost track of me, as my address kept changing, and, I guess, those cards kept getting returned.
Then, once, when neighbors were out of town and we were getting their mail for them, our mail got mixed up with theirs, I completely overlooked a jury notice. When I found it, I was panic-stricken (thinking they might arrest me or something). I called frantically. Turns out, it was one of those days when the prospective jurors actually didn’t have to report.
Then, 1991, I had to go. And I actually got picked to be on the jury. And I actually served, start to finish, for the only time ever. It was a Workman’s Comp case, and, we the jury, did not think the guy was owed any more money.
I did get picked another time. It took so long that they sent us off for lunch before the trial began. When we got back, and were sitting in the jury room, someone, I guess one of the prosecutors, came in and said that, while we were at lunch, the case had been settled. He assured us that our presence had not been for naught. Our being there and having the jury chosen and the case ready to be presented, made whomever was on trial decide that maybe that deal that had been offered wasn’t so bad after all. He said that our willingness to be part of the judicial process helped the case get resolved. And thanks. And our checks would be in the mail. ($7.50, I think.)
Once, I got a summons and showed up for a case that involved a drunk driver. Oh boy, I thought. I am going to fry this guy. But then the lawyers began to talk about being unbiased and listening carefully to all the testimony and making a good and honest decision, and I felt bad and resolved to be a good juror. And then they asked if anyone was a non-drinker, and I raised my hand and that was that.
Then, more recently, I had a summons. They come a few weeks before jurors have to report. I forgot about it. I felt really bad about it. And really anxious about it.
A few months ago, one Monday morning, so few potential jurors showed up that there barely were enough people to handle the week’s court cases. Needless to say, the judge was FURIOUS!! This was after I’d neglected to show up, but, I’m being more careful and attentive now.
So, I showed up. But I wasn’t quite as anxious as I’d been when I first got the thing. For those of you who haven’t kept up with local legal events here, the first Twin Peaks shooting case has begun. The ladies who were sitting on either side of me in the potential juror room, and I, were all grateful that that’s not the case we’d be hearing. (It started a couple of weeks ago. The shooting happened two-and-a-half years ago.)
So, quite a few people who felt they had legitimate exemptions went up and talked to the judge. Most of them got to leave. Then, they called the names of 60 folks, and told them to leave but to return on Tuesday morning. Then, they called the name of 62 more people (including me), and also said to come back on Tuesday.
I went back on Tuesday. And this time, not to the juror room in the Annex building, but right up to the third floor of the courthouse. At 9:00. I didn’t want to be at all late, and I wanted to be sure I could find parking (which isn’t all that hard, after all), so I arrived at about 8:15. But, I brought some work to do. At around 9:15, I got up and walked around a bit. Actually, around and around and around the big open space that looks down on the rotunda. I stopped and talked to a friend I haven’t seen in many years. And talked. And talked. Finally, at 10:15 or so, they opened the doors and called us, by name, to enter the courtroom. They lined us up on the benches, six per row, all going in in the order in which they had called us. That took a few minutes.
Then, the judge said, “We’re sorry we had to keep you out there so long. And we’re sorry that we couldn’t tell you anything. But if we started talking to you about what was going on in here, then it would have undermined the whole process.” There were several cases on the docket, and all of them got resolved with pleas and deals. And we were done.
And again, the judge was sober and serious about the fact that our showing up and our being ready to be part of a jury had made the process work. Cases were resolved.
I looked at my watch and thought, “Hmmm. I can actually get over to West Avenue Elementary School in time for the Reading Club time that I thought I was going to miss.”
Everything you were taught can be put into a few words:
Respect and obey God!
This is what life
is all about.
God will judge
everything we do,
even what is done in secret,
whether good or bad.
Ecclesiastes 12: 13, 14 (Contemporary English Version)
I guess if God’s doing the judging, a jury of my peers might not be all that reliable. They might have a bias.