By June Shaw
Have you ever served on a jury?
How do you feel about jury duty? Would you want to serve, or dread it as much as having three wisdom teeth yanked out without deadening?
I always told people I would never want to serve on a jury. I was adamant. And this was even before we were watching so many trials go one for weeks and hearing about all that on TV. Some jurors were locked up for days with little or no contact with the outside world—their families or jobs. They had to make major decisions that could not be taken back. And now, especially, we see so many cases in which we believe the jurors made poor decisions.
Why in the world would I want to serve?
And then I was called.
Goodness, I received a notice that I would have to show up at the courthouse in town, and I’d possibly be called on to become a juror.
I dreaded it. There was no way that I would decide to convict anyone of a crime. If I did, suppose I made a mistake that could affect the rest of that person’s life?
Thank goodness the first time I made a last-minute call and discovered the case was settled out of court. I didn’t have to go. Yay!
A few months later I was again summoned. This time attorneys on both sides questioned me. They told me the case concerned someone with drugs and wanted to know whether I had strong feelings about drug use.
Wow, how easy for me to respond. My middle son had been hooked on marijuana, making our lives miserable for years. Finally, thank God, he’d quit. It took us having to do an intervention – one of the hardest and best things I’d ever done in my life. He was so proud of the years he spent without using pot; we were all proud of him, too. I HATED illegal drugs.
After I said this, the prosecuting attorney wanted me in the jury. The defense attorney said, “Absolutely not.” I went home. The experience hadn’t been too bad.
A year or so after this I was called again. This time I was chosen. I had mixed feelings.
Right away the judge told us the trial concerned a young man charged with armed robbery. The defendant had robbed a drugstore and taken money and drugs. They caught him with the goods soon after he left the store. He did not have a weapon—but he had his finger in his jacket pocket and pointed it, telling everyone in the store that he had a gun.
Even if he did not, he had committed armed robbery, we were told.
Okay, so if they knew all of that, what were we there for?
The judge said we were having the trial because the thief pled not guilty because of temporary insanity: He was high on drugs when he robbed the drugstore.
I couldn’t believe it! I also couldn’t believe that the entire jury didn’t come up with a quick decision after we heard all of the evidence. Gosh, if someone could rob a store and be excused because he was high, then anyone could do anything—rob and kill—and say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that. I was high.”
Just think of the robberies and murders in this country. Most of them are caused by drug use. I knew that if I were the last juror standing with my feelings, I would not see the accused go free.
We didn’t. The trial was interesting, and the judge made us feel important. I knew I was doing the right thing. The only thing that disappointed me was that once we turned in the Guilty verdict, the judge thanked us and excused us. I was sorry at first that we wouldn’t know what happened to the defendant. But thinking about it afterward, I decided that probably was for the best.
And the only thing that disappointed me for quite awhile afterward was that I didn’t get called again. Surely it will happen. The next time I’ll go with no hesitation.
How about you? What are your feelings about serving on a jury?