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Jury Duty – Not just a duty but a privilege!


Justice is served!

Two months ago when I received the summons for jury duty in the mail, I groaned aloud, and this I’m sure is the usual way most hapless Americans react. Because it happens to be the mandatory ‘duty’ of each and every citizen of this nation and you cannot escape from it unless you have an awfully good excuse.

And as was the case I had none. I wasn’t on my deathbed; I wasn’t the sole caretaker of a severely disabled person; I didn’t suffer from memory loss; nor did I not have a reasonable understanding of the English language. So like it had happened the last couple of times, all I could hope for was a dismissal of the case. But as they say—three times and you are it.

So on the D day (a typical sunny Colorado winter  day with not a blizzard in sight!) I presented myself at the local county combined courts wearing my best somber face (this happens to be serious business!) along with 20 or so other like minded souls.

As yours truly had predicted, the case was on the schedule. We went through the rituals; marched single file through security (I was particularly thrilled at the absence of body scanners,) then gathered in the jury room where we were checked in by the sympathetic court clerk who did her best to make us feel that we were not the ones on trial—well, she tried.

Then we had to watch the ubiquitous 15 minute video (the optimum tool for mass instruction made especially for a ‘captive’ audience.)  But to my amazement instead of having the inevitable soporific effect, I found it quite interesting. Instead of raking up my fears by another 200% it actually helped dissipate them.

Being a juror is not a bad thing after all and the following are just some of the reasons:

1. The juror is the most powerful person in a court of law, more than the judge or even the president of the United States (and that feels good!)

2. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

3. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

4. Defendants have the right to a quick trial by a jury of people who are not involved with the case and are not biased against them. (6th amendment to the bill of rights.)

Now feeling a lot less apprehensive and perhaps a little more excited I trooped up to the courtroom for the jury selection process. (A real courtroom!)

It was just like the ones they show on TV—a large wood paneled room with a serious looking  judge in black robes, a bailiff, a security guard, the district prosecutor with the plaintiff and of course the defence attorney with the defendant. The only thing lacking was an audience—guess it was not that high profile of a case. Yet the aura was there, I could feel it as I sat there waiting and almost wishing to be chosen as one of the potential 12, from among whom 6 would be chosen.

And my name was called! The first step had been crossed successfully.

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