Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jury Duty

Good morning!!  Rebecca and I walked this morning and it felt SO good to move.  Back on track!  Yay!!  I am planning a trip to the gym at lunch with Roberta.  I am wondering if I should change my name to something 3 syllables that starts with an R.  Hmmm...something to think about.

So yesterday was jury duty.  Which I have no pictures of since it is frowned upon to take photos in the court room or jury selection room.  But I do have this picture of Sammy doing what I wished I had been doing during all the waiting.

Cute, right?
Anyway, if you have been to jury duty you know that there is a whole lot of waiting.  I arrived around 7:45 and went through the metal detectors without my shoes and on and then on to juror room 3 to wait...and wait...and wait.  I had my book and I was reading, but I really wanted to doze off.

Finally around 11:00 am I was selected along with 64 others to sit on a panel for a criminal court case.  We were lined up in the hall by the bailiff and assigned juror numbers that were on laminated cards (I was proudly juror 58).  We were then led through the underground tunnels downtown to the criminal court building where we were taken via freight elevator to the 19th floor.  I thought this was a little weird, but it was an interesting experience, so I did not complain.  Once on the 19th floor we were lined up along the hallway outside one of the courtrooms.  There were 4 on that floor I believe.  Then we were told by our bailiff that we could take a break.  There was a lot of great opportunity for people watching, interesting folks coming and going from the criminal courts, but there were not a lot of places to sit, so that was a bummer.  We were told we could not leave that floor.

After our break we were lined up and brought into the courtroom where the judge welcomed us and told us he was sorry for the delay, that it was his fault and if we wanted to be mad at someone or blame someone it was him.  I like someone who can take responsibility, I was sure I was going to like this judge.  So began the afternoon of him explaining the burden of the state to prove guilt, descriptions and examples of reasonable doubt (as one example goes thinking an alien came down, took on the likeness of the defendant and committed the crime is not a reasonable doubt...I told you I liked the judge) and the defendant being innocent until proved guilty.

The man coming to trial had been indicted of sexually abusing a child and as it turns out when the aunt in me kicks in, reasonable doubt becomes a grey area for me.  Don't judge me yet...I believe in everyone getting a fair trial, the accused was in the court room yesterday and I didn't think he looked scary or like someone who could commit such a crime.  I do know, however, that as the judge spoke and as the brave souls asked questions (it is intimidating to speak in a court room) I began to realize I didn't think I was a good choice for this jury.  The judge read the indictment which consisted of the crime and location, a specific county in Texas.  Then he asked us this question, "Do you believe that if the state cannot prove every aspect of this indictment beyond a reasonable doubt, that YOU can follow the law and return a verdict of not guilty?"

Let's see...the state proves that the correct person is here on trial.  Okay.  The state proves a sexual crime against a child has been committed.  Okay.  The state does not prove it happened in a certain Texas county.  You lost me.  If there was a crime and this was the person that committed the crime and there are no doubts about these things, you want me to call him not guilty?

I asked the judge if the state failed to prove the crime happened in this county if he could be tried again in another county for the same crime.  He told me that jeopardy did not exist and he could be tried in another location IF there was an investigation AND indictment there.  Now you really lost me.  I had to tell the judge (and it is intimidating to tell a judge this) that NO, I would not be able to follow the law and return a verdict of not guilty if the state proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the correct person was being prosecuted and this crime had been committed.  I didn't care if it happened in a Texas county, a Florida county or on the moon.  Especially if this could be this child's only chance to see justice served.  (This crime had also occurred in 2001, so said child is probably an adult or pushing adulthood now.)

It was scary to tell a judge that you wouldn't follow the law.  I was honest, which is what I had sworn to be and that part felt good.  There were a lot of completely silent jurors...I think they might have been scared too.  I was not selected for the jury.

This squirrel was there to greet me when I arrived at my mom's house to pick up Sammy after jury duty.

Hello Mr. Squirrel
Today I will be back in my happy yellow office gladly not thinking about fair trials, presumed innocence and the burden of proof.  The pen color of the day will be yellow.

Have you ever had to sit on a jury?  Could you remain neutral?


  1. I've never actually been called in for jury duty, only the phone in part of it. As a mom, I don't think I could remain neutral in that type of case. Kids are the most innocent people on the planet and anyone who would sexually abuse a child, deserves to go to jail.

    P.S. I found you through fitblog.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Sylvia! Tonight was my first fit blog experience! Fun!!

  3. good for you speaking up honestly! I've been on a panel but not picked for jury duty...I'd like to thikn I'd be objective but i know the details would be hard to hear. I know of several people who have been on tough cases....

  4. I am glad I was honest too. It felt good. I just couldn't imagine listening to details of that crime and then on that one little thing having to say not guilty. And I don't even know it would have turned out that way...I just knew I wouldn't have been able to say not guilty if everything else (the right person on trial, a crime was committed) was proven.


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