What I Learned at Jury Duty

By
Real Estate Agent with Novella Real Estate

Memorial RosesLast Monday I won the lottery, my prize was a seat in the juror's box!  Most people won't call that "winning" of course I say it with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.

Over the years I've reported to jury duty, coming close to serving only once until this week.  The last time I got close, I purposefully begged to be relieved as I had been planning an extended trip (1 year) to bike around the world.

The case at the time was a high-profile murder that had occurred in Douglas County.  I recognized the names and knew despite the fact they said it would be a 3-week case that it would take longer than that.  As a self-employed person, I couldn't afford to take that much time off, particularly with my well-laid out trip plans that I had been saving for over 5 years!  So I begged, was admonished ever so slightly by the judge then excused.

I felt bad about not fulfilling my duty as a citizen that time.  I've always wanted to participate, but the timing was oh so wrong.

This week I got to make it up.  Out of 40 people who reported for duty, I was one of 7 chosen.  I really don't know why I got so "lucky."  Reviewing my comments during the selection process one of the attorneys individually polled the jury pool about "what percent of cases are frivolous?"

As each person was giving their opinion, 10%, 45%, 30% etc.  my mind just couldn't grasp how to answer the question.  I'm not one to spewing statistics without a source.  I like to see proof first than I act.  This question was oh so bothering me.  Do I make up a number just to be like everyone else, or do I speak my mind.

My mind won.  "I can't answer your question.  I have no idea how many cases there are much less how many are frivolous.  Asking me to state a number that has no basis would mean I'd have to pull that number from the air.  So what's the point?" I told the court.

As the only one who responded independently, I suspect I was marked to serve.

So they chose me.  Me, another lady and 5 gentleman.  We knew one of us was an alternate, but we didn't know who.

The case began with both sides presenting their opening remarks.  As it involved a death of an 18-year old the testimony really tugged at my heart.  It was a tragic, horrific accident.  We were being asked to place blame on a driver who did not intentionally aim to kill someone, but who happened to be forced into a situation not of his making.  Another driver had an accident just moments before creating a disabled car in the middle of the freeway, at night in the rain.

Lessons learned, or relearned.

  • Bad things can happen to good people.
  • Tell my kids to run for safety, never, never ever assume you are safe in the middle of a freeway.
  • Don't try to build a case by assassinating the character of police, witnesses, expert witnesses, etc. unless you have the facts to back it up.
  • Be accurate.  Don't grab numbers from the air and expect people to believe you.  Know and seek the truth.
  • If you have the misfortune of losing a child, love your remaining children a million times more.
  • Do your own work

As a juror I paid attention, listened and watched everything that happened in the court room.  My fellow jurors did the same.

As the case was unfolded before us, we figured things out.  In reality, we either noticed a discrepancy, questioned a theory or just plain made a statement, before it was demonstrated to us.  Funny how that happened.  By the time the "expert witness" took the stand they were merely confirming what we already knew.

I'd like to say we were a very smart jury.  I suspect part of this was orchestrated by the lawyers so we would feel that way.  What it did was reinforce our position.  By the time the case was fully presented we were all able to make our determination without any nagging doubts.

I have a clear conscience.  I feel sad for all the families involved.  Tragedy can never be made right.  We cannot turn back time, all we can do is the best we can do.  Search for the truth and take responsibility for it.

I doubt I'll ever run into my fellow jurors again.  I told them yesterday it was a pleasure to serve with them and I meant it.

Thank you all and please remember to drive carefully.  Life is precious and it can be over in an instant.

kk

Comments (13)

Bridget "Mortgage Mama" McGee
SWBC Mortgage 410-960-2061 - Baltimore, MD
Maryland Mortgage Mama NMLS#196068

"If you have the misfortune of losing a child, love your remaining children a million times more."  I think I would change this...knowing that some folks have had the misfortune of losing a child, be sure to show your children how much you love them!

Thank you for serving, Jury duty is an important responsibility.  If more people took it as seriously as you did, the world would be a better place.

Bridget "Maryland Mortgage Mama" McGee

Feb 04, 2011 08:44 AM
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

I've served on 2 jury's.  One in WVA and one in NC.  I found them both very interesting and enlightening as to how our system works.  In one case I felt myself and the other jurors performed our duties by the book and in the other, I'm not so sure and feel our minds were made up as to guilt or not with disregard to how the evidence was presented.  Your case sounded very sad.

I also really enjoyed your Bangkok story and glad you were able to get that outfit to bring along home.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Feb 04, 2011 08:57 AM
Laura Forman
RE/MAX AEROSPACE REALTY www.LauraSellsBrevard.com - Melbourne, FL
Your Brevard Premier Property Specialist

Thanks for sharing an experience I'm sure you will never forget.  Loss is never in vain if positive change results.

Feb 04, 2011 09:14 AM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Now I know where you went. It's been quiet without you.

Feb 04, 2011 09:20 AM
Rebekah Radice
Imagine WOW! Digital Marketing Agency - Burbank, CA
Social Media Marketing, Coaching & Training

Great blog Kristal.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Feb 04, 2011 10:15 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

"Asking me to state a number that has no basis would mean I'd have to pull that number from the air. So what's the point?"

I knew you were a rebel :)

I served on one jury, a hit and run plus drunk driving. It is an interesting experience!!

Feb 04, 2011 11:57 AM
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Madison & Co Properties

Oh, kk, that is so terribly sad.  I have never been to jury duty myself.  In fact, I have only gotten my summons once and when i called in the night before, my number wasn't one of the one required to come in.  My husband, for some strange reason, has gotten a summons about 5 times in the past year and a half.  He hasn't been chosen to serve though.

Thank goodness there are smart, thoughtful people like you who are on juries.  (You do realize that the attorneys were clambering for you after that answer, don't you?)  

Feb 04, 2011 12:24 PM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

I have never had to serve on jury duty.

I would but just haven't been drawn. It is our civic duty, and I know it was hard, my husband has been called few times. He is always a little disturbed by the trials.

So sad.

Feb 04, 2011 02:37 PM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

I am presuming you found the person innocent?  I have never served on a jury, but I would imagine it would be extremely interesting.

Feb 04, 2011 03:22 PM
Emily Medvec
eXp Realty LLC - Santa Fe, NM
Realtor | Serving Santa Fe & Northern NM

Kristal, your service is admirable and your post very powerful and compassionate. Thank you for making a difference there... and again here.

Feb 04, 2011 03:43 PM
Kristal Kraft
Novella Real Estate - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Yes, we found the person innocent.  It took a long time to get to the determination.  The other side tried everything they could, but they didn't have any proof to back up their claims.  It was sad, but we were instructed to follow the law and not emotion.

It was an interesting experience.

Thank you all, for stopping by.

kk

Feb 04, 2011 04:18 PM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

I always find these situations interesting too. I've served on jury in 3 different states. The one in a small town in South Carolina was a riot! Thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate service.

Feb 04, 2011 06:25 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kristal, it does feel good to give back time for jury duty, as long as you have time for it!   Being self-employed makes it a tad more difficult.

Feb 05, 2011 03:20 AM

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