Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jury Duty

Finally, the 15th of May was here: the day designated for me to serve my jury duty.  The summons had the ominous words: "Capital Murder" and "Estimated Time: 5 weeks."  Not at all comforting. As the owner of a small business, 5 weeks was a devastating time to be otherwise occupied.  I am also fervently against the death penalty.  I believe in the power and miracle of redemption, having closely witnessed it in my circle of friends and family.  I figured between the two, I could easily evade the 5 week trial.

I woke Wednesday to showers, and as I pulled out of the driveway, he heavens had opened up and torrential rain pelted the trusty Trailblazer.

Dilemma: Do I go get coffee?  Or do I avoid the risk of missing one of the limited number of parking spots in the court house parking garage? 

I did without the coffee.

220 of us gathered in the Jury Room.  All walks of life.  All quiet, respectful.  Soft chatter in the room.  I was surprised at the sense of community.  Whatever our similarities or differences, we were all there for the same reason.  That fact broke down whatever barriers would have been in place in the "real world."  I was touched by that, and realized there may be more to this than trying to get off annoying civic duty.  Some 100 of us had made mistakes on our questionnaire. We were called to the front of the room, given our marked questionnaires, told to make corrections. I had mistakenly admitted to being a convicted felon.  Oops.  I counted myself fortunate to have not been called up twice!

The chief judge came in and reminded us that Jury Duty was a critical part of our responsibilities as citizens, that many of us wanted to get this out of the way as soon as possible, and to realize that there were many more factors and forces at work than our convenience and comfort. It really gave me pause, and I realized that if I were to be chosen for a 3-4 day trial I would do my civic duty, even if it meant working late at night or over the weekend.  He also said the Capital Murder trial was settled, so no one would be called upon for weeks of jury duty.

Break time!  Coffee was the first priority and I dashed out for a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee-why is that coffee so darn good??

The morning and early afternoon was spent reading a trashy novel, and kind of resting.  One large group was called up and that was all. I breathed a sigh of relief as the "S's" were called out and my name was not one of them. Of the 17 cases, only 2 were going on to trial.

I was sprung by 2:00 PM, and that was that.  I am now immune from another jury duty summons from the State of Delaware for 2 years.

 However, Federal Court is another matter.

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