Tuesday, June 17, 2008

civic duty

i was called for jury duty for the first time in my life yesterday. quite a process, really. showed up to the courthouse about 8:30 am, went through the metal detectors, removed my belt and phone, corralled into a big room with about 200 other potential jurors, and then we waited. even though there was a sense of inconveniece, it dissipated fairly quickly as it became clear that just our presence was encouraging various disputes around the courthouse to settle. attornies were doing all they could to avoid a jury trial. so even though we were sitting in the "corral" watching a dvd of "national treasure" (so appropriate), parties were aware that if they didn't settle, they might have me sitting in judgment over them.

after about 90 minutes, my number was called and i was sent with a group of people to a court on the second floor. there we went through the voir dire process. various excuses were given as to why potential jurors couldn't serve but only a few were accepted. the judge wasn't swayed by people who were upset about missing work. but there were some who were able to convince him that they would be biased in this particular case given a few of the details. i had no excuses. certainly i couldn't use the work excuse since my days are free. and i haven't had much of anything criminal happen to me so i couldn't present any reason to be dismissed.

one guy sort of upset me saying he should be dismissed because of his Bible training. i was like, "what?!" he did not seem to have any understanding of our judicial system essentially saying that the defendant was guilty and this was all a formality. i wonder if he'd feel that way if he were ever on trial for something. there's always two sides to a story. he was saying that he didn't feel he could sit in judgment of someone else. what was upsetting to me was him saying this as a "bible trained" person. ridiculous! God has delegated his divine judgment to humans in a number of places. we see it in deuteronomy 16:18. we see it in the book of judges. and the whole idea of delegated authority is huge in romans 13. when we participate in this system of justice, we are taking part in delegated divine authority. of course we can't sit in judgment over someone else on our own, but that is not what is happening when one sits on a jury. we have been given authority. and this authority should be handled very carefully and with an awareness of a certain weight. a person's life hangs in the balance depending on what we decide based on the evidence of the case. i wanted to say something like, "i'm bible trained too but have no problem with this" but i kept my mouth shut.

after the voir dire, there was a back and forth between the plaintiff and defendant on who they wanted on the 12 person jury with one alternate. when it was all done, i heard my name among those 13. frankly i was a little shocked. the case started almost immediately and went for a good chunk of the afternoon but ended early when we ran out of witnesses. today should be a full day of witnesses and evidence.

the only drag is not getting my normal time in the sun or on the incline. :) it's amazing that i've lived here for 18 years and just as i'm about to leave, i get my first call for jury duty.

1 comment:

Splashes42 said...

how have you slipped under the radar for so long? i've been called up twice! the first time they didn't want me because of my parental relations to the law enforcement in the county. the second, colorado somehow didn't realize i was no longer a resident.