Last 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.