I’m proud to serve as a juror but I’m thankful to have it done
This week I’m feeling all “Perry Mason” or dare I say it, “Matlock” after spending two days as a juror on a civil trial.
Frankly, I am really surprised I was selected to actually serve as a juror. Attorneys don’t typically like people like me – reporters – on a jury.
When I first got my summons, I thought I’d easily get out of it. However, I did not consider the fact I might have to serve on a civil trial. During jury orientation, Circuit Judge Bynum Gibson informed us we would not be excused based solely on our occupation. Upon hearing this information, I began thinking of another argument of why I could not serve. So I concocted the “it’s not fair to cover an arrest and be a potential juror during trial” reason so I wouldn’t have to serve on the criminal trials. It was a valid point, but it landed me back in court two days later, when a civil trial was set to begin.
I have to say I really don’t mind serving on the jury, but I never really expected to be sitting in the jury box.
But, after it was all said and done, there I sat with 11 other jurors. When the jury was selected and the case has already begun, we were asked to wear juror badges. Different people in the courthouse thought it was humorous that I – the paper lady – was serving on a jury. I guess they thought it was humorous because it’s really strange to see a reporter serving. But, since I was excused for the criminal cases, I did not mind to serve during civil trials. After all, it’s not a conflict of interest unless I have prior knowledge of the case beforehand or if I knew the individuals involved on a personal level, which I did not.
We listened to testimony for one and a half days, but we never got to deliberate. The judge entered a directed verdict. I didn’t disagree with him, and honestly, after talking with some of the other jurors after we were dismissed, its my opinion that we’d have ruled the same way as the judge. However, I was a little irritated that I’d sat there and listened attentively and never got to express my opinion.
I really felt very smart when the judge pointed out some of the things I’d noticed about the case during his ruling. I thought, ‘hum maybe I would be a good lawyer.’ Then, I thought, ‘nah, there’s a lot of boring stuff that goes along with it.’
But, there was once a time, I thought I’d love to argue a case in front of a judge. I never really had aspirations of it growing up but as I started covering criminal cases as a reporter, I became interested in the law. However at some point in my career I decided covering the law would be more fun than practicing the law.
I can tell you that if there was any desire left in me to go to law school, it was killed earlier this year when I took a business law class.
But, I can say I still love to watch the legal system at work. It was pretty cool watching the principles I learned in class be applied to an actual case. I feel the same way about criminal court, too. As I’ve said several times before, our right to a fair trial is a right we should all hold dear because not every country allows us to have them.
So when we are complaining about heading to jury duty we should remember that we are serving our community by helping preserve someone else’s freedom.
We should see jury service as a privilege instead of a burden. I know I did even though I really needed to be doing other things.
It was still an honor to be a tiny part of our justice system because every part matters.