The letter came, I had been selected to serve jury duty. At first I tried to think of every way to avoid this task but in reality I knew that I did not have an acceptable excuse. So when the call came for me to report for a possible trail I had no alternative but to attend my first meeting. The room was full of people and it was obvious that many of those sharing this experience with me did not want to be there. The first order of business was for those who had an excuse to present it and try their hand in getting excused. I was surprised that very little resistance came from the officer talking with those trying this option. After the arguments were presented the names of those being excused were announced. They quietly left and those remaining sat in quiet anticipation.
We were told that this duty would last for 60 days and that we could receive a phone call during that time to report for a possible trial. They explained parking regulations, how we would be paid for this service if selected and such. Then we were told that a triall would be conducted that day. The first order of business would be that we would fill out a survey and it would be reviewed by the attorney’s. If selected further then we would be interviewed by those attorneys and at that point it would be decided if we would serve or not.
I diligently and honestly filled out the paperwork answering each question with brief but insightful responses. I was taking this very seriously as were most of the others in the room. The surveys were collected and in a short while an officer came into the room and read off a list of those to be interviewed. If you were not selected you were free to go with your day. My name was called. We were all taken into the court room where we sat in anticipation. Soon the room filled with the legal representatives. We were not told what the trial would be about but one by one we had to answer a number of questions. After going through this process we were again taken into another room to wait the selection. In a matter of minutes the names of those selected were announced and again those not selected were allowed to leave. Once again I had been picked and I must admit a little fear flowed through my veins. They told us that the trail would begin in minutes and we were instructed about the proper court room etiquette.
We would be faced with the possible violation of a restraint order.
In sitting through the proceedings it was painfully clear that the prosecuting attorney had not done his homework and was presenting very poorly. As a jury we could see that the young wife was fearful and that she wanted help but evidence was not given that the law had been breached. I wanted to ask questions. I wanted to see more evidence. I wanted to see this man brought to justice but the evidence had not been presented to make the case. In a very short while the presentations ended and we were sent to the jury room to make our decision. All of us felt the same pain. We sent a note to the judge for more information but were told that we had to decide based on what had been presented.
I was so disappointed, that a decision so important had to be made on the poor performance of the prosecutor. For the first time I realized how difficult it was to serve on a jury. I also made a commitment to take very seriously any election for the judicial system. We gave our verdict but left the court room that day unhappy with a system that is so dependent upon others.