Most of us, if we are truthful, fuss and kick, complain and whine at the bother of being summoned for jury duty. It is always an inconvenience at best and never a good time. Who will pick up the kids, attend to granny, complete the paperwork at the office, drive the school bus, or tend to the patients?
I’m no different from you and chewed on my lip as I waited to see if my juror number would be called. I’d already been excused from federal jury duty once when I had cataract surgery. I could not be excused this time, a problem since Tom is scheduled to have surgery during the two week span of my required service.
Life is difficult at times, isn’t it? We have choices we make and choices that are made for us.
So, last Monday, I dressed up like a big girl and Tom drove me to the Metra station, where I bought a week’s worth of tickets. I rode on the eastward rail, into Chicago, clutching my summons and map and a tote filled with a book and a crossword puzzle, a doctor’s note excusing me on the surgical date, and a little bit of hope that I wouldn’t be selected, and, if truth be told, and ladies and gents, this was a court of law, so I must tell the truth, if truth be told, a little bit of hope that I would be selected.
I am fascinated by our judicial system and have respect for our founders and the system of justice they conceived. In this 21st century, it is complicated and confusing to laymen and women such as myself, and there is criminal and civil and circuit and federal court, grand juries, and on and on, but there I was, summons in hand, waiting and waiting and waiting to see what my immediate future would hold.
I was selected after a process of questioning and review, along with eight other men and women. The week was not to be mine. It belonged to the large district in which I reside.
We were sworn in, a jury of nine, and heard opening arguments. It really works this way, but, make no mistake, this is real life in real time and is about the rights of our citizens and law and order, not to be confused with a television series. I sat and took notes and watched and listened along with my peers for four days as the civil trial played out and the fourth amendment rights of a citizen, a child, were played against those who are sworn to defend and protect, our law enforcement, and the question of undue force was examined. It was fascinating and intimidating, exhausting and enlightening and frustrating as well. We were instructed to speak not a word about the trial to anyone, nor watch news that related to the subject at hand or read news items or tweet, chirp, chatter or blog.
At the end of the trial, closing arguments were heard; all eyes upon us, we jurors, citizens from all walks of life. Our instructions were laid out, a deputy escorted us to our appointed room, where our cell phones were taken, the door was locked, we selected a spokesperson for the jury, and deliberations commenced.
Let me tell you, dear reader, that this was a task that was serious. Voices were raised and feelings exposed and tallies taken of pros and cons. It was lively and deliberate (hence, deliberations) and the fact that the course of several lives was at stake weighed heavy on this juror. I am not inexperienced, nor faint of heart. I have dealt in my life with employee relations and student discipline matters involving expulsions. Each and every time I have been called upon to render tough decisions, I have tossed and turned on the evidence and weighed all the facts in my decision making. This was no different in that respect. It is a gut-wrenching process in which I would hope that should it ever be me that each and every juror would exercise due diligence in my fate.
A verdict was reached, a unanimous decision, and the balance of justice was served. I encourage you to serve if and when you are called to uphold the law of your land, wherever your home is, should you be called.
Of course, I am sitting here hoping I am not called up for yet another week (and certainly don’t need another set of days of enduring our infamous former governor, whose trial is going on in the same building).