I have received my 4th jury summons in the 11 years we have lived here. There is the possibility that I will not have to go or will only have to serve one day. My experience makes me anxious, however.
My first summons was about 10 years ago. My teens were then in private school and had to do several days of expensive after-school care. They loved it but were ready for it to be over. Noach was a baby and had to stay with a woman who was familiar to him but he was ready for his mommy too.
About an hour after everyone arrived at the courthouse, fifty of us were moved to a courtroom and the judge began to give us a talk about our duty. Gradually it dawned on me that he was telling us this was a murder trial and the death penalty was sought. Whoa! I am no supporter of capital punishment. Surely they would realize that soon and let me go home.
Three days later I finally had my chance to speak. Did I have a conflict with being on jury duty for up to 4 weeks? Hell, YES. I had a 2 year old who was not accustomed to so much babysitting. No one cared. He'll get used to it. It was his civic duty. Actually they said it was my civic duty but I remarked that I didn't think he would find that comforting. Did I believe in capital punishment? No. But it is the state law. So what? The state law would not help me sleep at night. "It's not my fault, the law made me do it." I don't think so.
Now I already knew that they had picked a guy who did not believe in the death penalty. There was a guy who said he was a Catholic and pro-life. He had picketed abortion clinics when in college a decade earlier. But he admitted that the fact that it was state law did soften his stance. Weenie! They took him.
But they let me go. A woman I often sat with and ate lunch with noted that they had only picked white guys, like the Catholic man, and black women, like herself. Weeks, maybe months after, she yelled at me across the drive-thru lines at the bank, that she got out of it, too.
And that was the best part of the experience, spending time with a real cross-section of the community. I ate lunch with people, like that lady, a young black woman, I would never have met or had a real conversation with, otherwise.
And the jury they picked "gave him the chair." A few years after the trial, the DA was removed for not sharing all the evidence in some trials. I never knew if that was one of the affected trials. I'm glad though I didn't have to live with that question.
I am hoping for much less excitement this time. And much less time. PRM