“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!” Proverbs 31:8-9 (The Message)
A few weeks ago, I got a jury summons in the mail. I was astonished to see that it was for the day after our Christmas holiday. What judge or attorney schedules a trial for the Monday after Christmas? Surely, no one wanted to be prepping for a case on the holiday! I thought for sure that I would call the night before and get the message not to bother to come. Imagine my surprise when I heard I had to report! I was still optimistic that I would arrive at 8:00 and find that all the cases had been settled and I could go on to work. Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men and all that jazz. While only fifty-five jurors showed up for service today, there were five cases to be heard! Do the math, all of us would at least get interviewed and possibility selected for jury duty. We waited until 10:45 for the attorneys to quit duking it out and were informed that now, only three cases would be scheduled for this week. Great, the odds are lowering! I thought. Until I figured out that they were calling 12-20 people for each jury pool. Fortunately, I was prepared with my note book computer and some work I needed to do for my office. With wireless internet in the jury holding room, it was almost like being in my office except with fewer distractions. Finally, at 11:30, my name was called along with nineteen others to go upstairs and be questioned by the attorneys. I know the judge and half hoped that might get me excused, but he identified me right away and nixed that idea. He told all the other jurors that he was confident I could be impartial and while they waited, they should ask me questions about our County’s history! Then, came all the ridiculous questions by the attorneys. Did we know any law enforcement officers? What was our definition of reasonable doubt? Did we know for sure that the American flag in the corner had 50 stars? My answer to that was, I was fairly confident since this was a modern courtroom, but of course, if it was the flag when Manatee County was formed, it only had 31 stars. Smart aleck. As the questioning went on, it was clear that the case was an issue of domestic violence. One of the attorneys asked everyone with children to raise their hands. Then, they asked, “If you caught your kids fighting, but did not see who started it, what would you do?” Everyone was saying things like, talk to them, look them in the eye, figure out who was lying, etc. I said the truth of what would have happened in my house when my kids were little. If I did not see who started the fight, both of them were presumed guilty and both got punished. No questions asked. Funny, they decided that they didn’t need my services as a juror today!