Okay, yesterday I went to the county courthouse with a jury summons. When I had received that summons (my fourth) I had again hoped I would be seated
on the jury....to me it was like 'winning a raffle', with the prize being an adventure of sorts. I have never been seated on a jury, but have thought
it would be interesting, a part of adult civic life that not everyone has an opportunity to experience.
Previously I have sat on the hard pews while going through the process...one time my entire group was dismissed right off the bat; the other two times
I made it to the selection panel, but was excused from the group sitting in the pews...the first was a petty-theft-from-the-till case, the second was
a personal injury case. No biggie. I was disappointed that I wasn't chosen.
This time, the clerk had the pews full already when I arrived, so I was sent to sit in the jury box itself. "One step closer," I thought to myself,
"to seeing what it's like to be a juror."
I had no idea what the cases were, who the parties were, or anything else about what the docket contained. They did not tell us the nature of the
proceedings in the morning orientation except that there were 2 criminal cases, 1 civil case, and another case to start Thursday.
I was placed on a panel of 60 potential jurors for the first case and we were herded to the next building, in numerical order, like a busload of
school-kids on a field trip. We entered the courtroom, again in numerical order, and I was again directed to the jury box. "Score," I thought. "Even
if I don't get chosen, at least I've had a chance to sit in the jury box during an actual proceeding. Cool."
Once everyone was finally seated, we were told it was a criminal trial. The defendant stood when told to, and turned "so these folks can get a look at
The voir dire
(jury selection) started with the ADA speaking to us about "burden of proof" and our role as jurors (if chosen), and said the
process was to take the remainder of the day.
About a half-hour into the address, the ADA said it was a murder trial. Premeditated murder in the first degree. Suddenly I had a sort of "uh-oh"
sinking feeling, like dread. Did I really want to sit on a 1st degree murder trial? On one hand, it was the ultimate of cases...the most important
role a juror could be assigned to. On the other...yikes.
The defendant was seated at the table furthest from where I was with two attorneys. Between them and me was the ADA, with a 3-inch binder on the desk
that had a name on the spine.
I started to reconsider whether or not I was up to sitting on a jury that would decide the future for this person. At that point, I became neutral
about it. I would serve willingly and do my best, but if I was dismissed that was fine too, because it's a hefty responsibility, and one naturally
thinks of retaliation when one becomes involved in such things.
That is all I can tell you about it (judge's orders), that I was on the panel, that it was a 1st degree murder case, but nothing else.
When I got home, I called my mom, who knew I wanted to be seated. I told her the above. She told me then that my dad had served on a 1st degree murder
case when I was a teen (I never knew that until yesterday) and they had convicted the guy. "And he was scared," Mom said. "For quite a while, he was
nervous and worried."
My question to ATS is this: would you sit on a jury for a 1st degree murder case? Or would you ask to be excused
on grounds of your faith-based or spiritual beliefs?
I was not chosen, and in hindsight, I am relieved. But it brings up an interesting point, one that I wanted to present here. Is it morally okay to be
one of 12 who decide whether or not the State has proven guilt or not in a case involving the death of a human being?
I'm not sure at all..... And I look forward to seeing what you all think.
edit on 17-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)