We the People have the constitutional right thanks to the Bill of Rights, amendment 6, to Trial by Jury. This right is the only one we have that is documented in both our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I am ever so thankful our founding fathers were brilliant enough to create and bestow this privilege. The gift of allowing our fellow people to collectively hear us out should we ever find ourselves in the situation to activate the right to a fair trail by our peers.
The juxtaposition we find ourselves facing the responsibility of being a juror, the dread of it while acknowledging the privilege of activating this right. We must show up unless we have a good excuse not to. The disruption of our time, the new pattern your life temporarily takes when you raise your right hand and promise to uphold amendment six, is hard.
I got pick again, the letter came a few weeks ago. I didn't have a good reason other than I did not want to obliged my time to fluorescent lights and closing arguments. I had clients to cancel, dog and teen care to manage and a much needed manicure to wipe off my calendar. I felt the resentment seep in.
After several hours of sitting around I settled into the scene, reading my book club book. Hmm not so bad. Please God do not let me get picked. I want to hike and breathe in fresh air. The air is on so high I am freezing while watching the early summer sunshine outside. I am jealous of the freedom I see outside the window of the juror holding tank.
Kay Tacke Morse and 23 other names are called. Shit. I am trapped. I am not free. I have to remember that I am free. We live in a free country and because of my civic duty to participate in Jury Duty I will now be apart should they select me as one of the 1. I will be withholding this Right our founders fought so passionately for.
I was entering into the classroom of democratic process and tradition and I needed a perspective shift. A shift away from what I was missing out on. Four of our 24 had real jobs, one woman a Rocket Scientist that had ground breaking research that could save the world this week gets excused. I get picked
I get judgey after opening arguments. I am clearly biased toward the Plaintiff. Every word I hear builds my case up in my head. And then I get tired of the redundancy, the sales pitch from both sides. The spoon feeding, the dramatic pauses carefully rehearsed by each side and I feel the unhinge coming, my rage at the actors on the stage I am audience too. The air conditioner is on high and blowing right at me. I am shivering and I am pissed at both sides. This is a shit puppy show and not what I had in mind for justice school. These rascals tarnish our system, our rights I feel. Now I am back at resenting the rocket scientist that got excused.
Closing arguments and I am swayed 180 to the Defendants side. D has game that finally shows up at the 11th hour. He hits each point so eloquently that I am on his team in a few moments. We gather and finally we the People get to chat about the case and collectively compose the ending of this story. We select a foreman and he asks each of us for our vote. He wants to know where do we stand before we dive in. 7 to 5 in favor of the Plaintiff. I am not the popular vote. Nor is the foreman. We all play nice and go around the table and share what swayed each us one way or another. Each of our own stories and perspectives play into our decison of course. We are all biased based on our own prescriptions and life experiences. Two of us offer to vote for the P as long as he does not receive the ridiculous financial compensation he is seeking. We offer a compromise as we could be stuck indoors all summer if some of us don't budge.
The foreman bowed out of his right to vote one way or the other as he was so incensed at the P. It just takes 9 in this case and we have our 9. We compromise along the way. Though the bossy pants over talker juror next to me nearly convinced me to stand my stubborn ground. She pisses me off. Her viewpoint didn't include collaboration. I turned to her and said we all of the Right to our own opinion and deserve the respect as selected jurors to hear one another out; we are not on trial; one day we may be and we deserve all perspectives to be shared. She shuts up. Even if we were in agreement I may have switched sides to be as far away from her narrow view point. The retired gentleman that argued incessantly with me in a respectful manner hugged me after. He got it that it was a stretch for me to switch teams. The End. Jury Duty over. Defendant guilty and then we go back to our lives.
Before we left, the Judge thanked us for showing up and for honoring our system and taking the time to participate.
I am profoundly humble in my gratitude for my sacrificed week and the relevancy of the education I received in the courtroom. Proud to be an American today.
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