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Jury Duty

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments
Jury Box

I received a summons once during my freshman year of college from my home county in Mississippi. Since I was off at school in a different part of the state, I got out of having to go. I’ve kinda regretted that since then and sometimes I’ve gotten a little jealous when people I know were summonsed.

Over 20 years later, I finally got another summons and last week I had to report. I was excited about the possibility at first, but then a major deadline came up at work for the end of the month. I figured I would be there a day, possibly two, and then I could get back to work.

I reported to the courthouse on Wednesday of last week. They had 15 cases and not enough jurors, so people who didn’t get selected for for one case would be recycled and could potentially be on another case. They mentioned a 4-day case and also 1-day cases. After we watched a video, they selected a pool for two 3-day cases pretty early on. Then they selected a pool that didn’t have to go because there wasn’t going to be a jury trial for that case after all. I think at this point we found out that there were 1 or 2 cases left because the others had been settled, rescheduled, or the defendant waived their right to a trial by jury. They called my number for the next pool. We all thought this was going to be a 1-day case, but it turned out to be the 4-day case that was mentioned! Shit! I knew that I was going to have to work nights to meet my deadline if I was picked.

After a lunch break we were taken to the court room where jury selection would take place. We found out the charges and were asked questions by the judge and lawyers. I was in the jury box from the beginning which meant I was going to be in the trial unless I was eliminated. The attorneys bumped a lot of people from the box during the challenge phase and each time the juror was placed by someone else from the pool. I thought some of my answers would show favor toward the prosecution, but I was never bumped. When selection was over, we were sworn in. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I’m not going to go into all the details of the trial. It was a sexual abuse cases involving a girl and her stepfather. We were there Wednesday – Friday and came back to finish the following Wednesday (yesterday). I feel sad that the girl’s life has been affected by this and her mother didn’t believe her that anything had happened. The defendant was found guilty by a unanimous vote on each of the 5 charges that we considered. I was sitting right next to the witness stand, so I got a close up view of all the witnesses. I tried to look straight at everyone at some point when they were speaking, especially the victim. After the verdict, we got to ask the judge questions. She said it was one of the toughest cases she’s ever had to listen to. We found out there were 8(?) more charges that he waived his right to a jury trial.

One funny things is that on Monday I went to the gym. Some guy hesitantly walked up to me. I figured that we knew each other from somewhere but just didn’t remember where. He asked if I had been on jury duty the week before. When I said yes, he said that he was sorry I got picked and they stopped the challenge/bumping process right before they got to him. Once he said that I remembered him and remembered him answering questions.

I’m glad jury duty is over. I wish my first experience didn’t have so much stress involved. I managed to get my work stuff done pretty early and we will meet our deadline. It’s nice just be able to talk about the trial now even though I’m still not going into a lot of details. We couldn’t even talk about it in the jury room until deliberations began. I’m glad that I can google information about the case now. Last night, I googled the defendant and found a whole list of charges. I can’t be summonsed again for two years. If I’m ever picked again, hopefully it won’t be as serious of a case.

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