I guess you figured out by my lack of posts last week that I actually DID get called to serve on a jury. So much for wishful thinking that I’d be deemed unacceptable and cast aside. It was a small consolation that, on Thursday afternoon, I saw a number of the folks who had been rejected on Monday standing in line at the security checkpoint – with juror badges on. It seemed they had been recalled and selected for other juries later in the week. So, they didn’t escape, either. There was some weird satisfaction in that. I was almost done and they had just begun.
I think it was inevitable that I was selected for a jury. Not that I particularly wanted to serve on the jury, but that it was my time. I’ve lived here almost 20 years, been a registered voter for longer than that, and NEVER have served on a jury. I think it was about time my number came up. Now, if I can only escape the responsibility for another 20 years… that would be awesome, but probably not very likely.
Actually, my case was pretty interesting and involved “Imminent Domain” – where a public organization (the government or a utility) seizes land in order to provide some service or upgrades for the “greater good” of the community. In our state, they are required to pay “just and adequate compensation.” The dispute arose around what that “just and adequate compensation” was going to be.
There was lots of testimony from appraisers and the like telling us what the value of the property was “before the taking” and “after the taking” (I just loved all the legal jargon – it was like learning to speak a foreign language in 30 seconds or less) While that part was pretty mind-numbing, the actual deliberation was not. THAT was where it got interesting.
Our justice system is based on a person’s ability to find justice based on decisions of their “peers.” That’s why the jury selection process is supposed to be random and without prejudice (notice I said “supposed to” – I’m still reconciling the fact that then they let the attorneys “strike” people from the jury pool that they think are not suitable to their case – seems like we then undo the randomness, but anyway…)
What was interesting was that I thought the case was very cut and dried. Easy decision. We’ll be done quickly and on our way home.
We were not allowed to discuss the case at all during the trial. Only once we got to deliberation. I was shocked to find (ha ha ha) that not everyone felt the same way I did. Really? Uh, why not?
So, there we were, reading through all this evidence, arguing minutiae and discussing whether or not this person “deserved” the money we were going to award to him.
At one point, I was convinced that I would not, under any circumstances, change my position. I had the right answer and the rest of those goofballs were wrong…
But, sitting in a tiny, freezing cold conference room for hours on end, discussing (and I use that word loosely – the bailiff said we were the noisiest jury she had had in a long time) the case, I began to think I’d be willing to agree to anything if they would JUST LET ME OUT OF HERE.
In the end, we came to a compromise. I wasn’t thrilled with what we decided but I WAS thrilled with the fact that we were done.
Now? I’m just happy to get back to my life and my routines. (and regular blog postings)
Let’s just hope my number doesn’t come up again for a good long time.