Last Friday I fulfilled my civic duty and reported for jury duty. Although I didn't want to miss work because I'm a workaholic, I was curious about the whole judicial process given the general climate of the news lately and because I have never been called in as a juror before.
Essentially my name was called as an alternate juror and then a bunch of questions were asked which weeded people out. One of the questions to eliminate people was, 'do you feel comfortable passing judgement and assigning a punishment to another person?' My immediate thought was, No, no I don't!! But my logical side told me to stick in there because this is my patriotic obligation to my country.
Let me tell you, it's daunting and concerning to have someone's fate in your hands. That is a LOT of responsibility. A person's life and the next chapter in their life was in the hands of 12 people. We were going to determine if someone could go home to their family or if they were going to face consequences. When you stop to think about it, there is a lot of weight to that thought.
In any case I made it through the questioning round and became one of the jurors for the day's trial.
I think the toughest part of the day for me was sitting near the defendant. I know in life we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover but I couldn't help feeling sympathy towards this man. He was middle aged, dressed nicely, and had kind, albeit worried, eyes. For some reason my heart went out to him.
I was pretty excited when it was time for lunch. Since we were near downtown I steered a small group of us to Smoked BBQ co. I happen to know the guy (and his wife) who owns the cart/company and his food is just awesome. Delicious everything, at a good price point, and it's quick. I mean you can't go wrong.
After lunch we heard the rest of the case and soon it was deliberation time. To be honest I thought my opinion wouldn't be liked, but surprisingly we were split 60%-40% (I was on the 60% side). We discussed a little and were able to come to a consensus quickly. All the jurors were pretty happy about that because it was past 6:30pm on a Friday.
Personally I was relieved with our decision. To be honest had things gone the other direction I may have carried around some guilt for a while.
The big highlight of my day was when the judge read our consensus. Right as the judge got to that one part, I looked over at the defendant as the last part of the consensus was read and the emotion that washed over him will be forever etched in my mind and my heart.
I don't know about anyone else, but I have no doubt that we made the right decision.