I’ve been waiting my whole adult life to get called to Jury Duty. You could say I’ve been chomping at the bit to do my civic duty. Way back in 1997 I was called. It was a perfect time to miss a day of school; my classes had just started and there wasn’t much going on. But all I was required to do was call a number the day of and see if I had to come in. Which I didn’t . So that wasn’t any fun.
10+ years later I get called again. This time: Jackpot! I not only got to go down to the courthouse and sit in the big room with the comfortable chairs, but my name got called and I got to experience voir dire and then! I got to be on the jury! It wasn’t the most exciting case–a civil case where we had to decide if the injuries the plaintiff sustained in a motorcycle accident in 2005 were limiting her activities today–but I enjoyed the entire experience. We had a great judge and it was fun to see how an actual courtroom compared to what happens on t.v.
In my case a lot of the procedure was the same, but what the lawyers said wasn’t quite as polished as in the movies. It makes sense, though. In the movies the actors get to memorize lines that someone else has written. Actual lawyers have to actually talk off the top of their heads. Also, when one lawyer objects and both of them and the judge go into chambers to discuss the matter? We don’t get to find out what they are talking about. The most surprising thing to me was that the jury could ask questions of the people on the stand. There was a whole procedure involved, but all the questions that were submitted by my jury were asked and answered. It provided extra insight into the case we wouldn’t have had.
For the deliberations portion, I got to be the Presiding Juror. That’s what they are calling the Jury Foreman these days. I got to help run deliberations and to write our findings on the official sheet of paper. And then I got to hand that piece of paper to the clerk so the judge could read it. I enjoyed deliberations and thought that people were fair and thoughtful. Afterwards, the judge came back to the jury chambers and we got to ask him questions about the case, which turned out to be very enlightening.
Overall, it was a fabulous experience and I’m glad I was picked.