While absent from blogging, social media and my writing, I wanted to share one of the reasons I have been absent, I was recently selected to serve as a juror and felt compelled to share my story:
“You Have Been Selected Through a Random Drawing to Serve as a Juror…” Part 1
The Justice System
I was required to appear at the court house on March 11, 2019. The line entering the to enter the courtroom was lengthy and we were required to be searched and walk through a scanner.
I was intrigued by the amount of people, over 50 now seated in the back of the courtroom on very old pew like benches. This made me begin to think that this might be something serious, but at this time I had no idea of what type of case I might be chosen for, civil or criminal? We watched a video with instructions and information on the service of a juror.
The Jury Box
The judge entered the room following the video, and the attorneys were at the appropriate tables and the presiding circuit court judge called out 24 names to sit in the jury box. My name was one of this first 24.
The courtroom was a large room. The bench or the seat where the judge sits was in the corner with flags behind his bench. To the right was a witness chair and the left sat the clerk of the courts and the court reporter. The attorney tables were large worn wooden tables that probably witnessed testimonies for well over 100 years. The district attorney’s (DA) side was filled with three ring binders over 4 inches thick. Seeing that much information, I pondered the obvious…they have a lot to say here.
I was curious, admittedly very curious to know what the charges were for the defendant sitting between two gentlemen. The DA and the defendant’s attorney began asking each potential juror questions, “called Voir Dire” which means “to speak the truth”. After several Q & A’s, and preemptive strikes the attorneys whittled down through their list of potential jurors and after hours of time passing, the attorneys made their choices.
The judge stated when I call out these names please stand and remain standing. He called out 14 names, and yes, to my surprise, my name was called. I am sure my reaction was written on my face. The judge dismissed the seated potential jurors and the announced that we were the chosen jurors for this case and the case should take approximately one week. He also stated that two of us would be alternates randomly selected at the end of the trial.
During the selection process I swear time was not moving. There was complete silence and I began scanning the defendants table and the people behind in the benches, then peered over to the DA’s and the people sitting behind on that side in the benches. Who were these people, I wondered?
Now that the jury was selected, the courtroom beginning proceedings seem to take swift action.
Immediately, while still standing, we raised our right hand and we appropriately were sworn in and took the oath for a juror. I admit I was completely stunned that I was chosen to sit on a jury panel in the courtroom’s old rickety wooden chairs.
The strict instructions to jurors were given by the judge, especially not to discuss the case with each other or anyone, even our spouse or family, avoid social media and the news.
The judge stated that this case was a criminal case and he read the long list of charges against the defendant…to be continued