Saturday, November 18, 2017

Jury duty

Serving on a jury is the most important duty a citizen can be called for. Short of going to war, no other civic obligation has a deeper and more lasting impact on our fellow citizens and society as a whole. Yet, it's a task none of us is prepared for and many try to avoid.

This spring I had an honor and a privilege to serve with eleven other people and ultimately decide the faith of two young men charged with first degree murder. The trial lasted two months, we heard over a hundred witnesses and deliberated for four days until we reached the verdict. There is no way I can describe this experience in a blog post, so I'm not going to try. The fact is that even if I wrote a book only my fellow jurors would fully understand it, let alone relate. Most of these awesome people I remained in contact with. We come from all generations and all walks of life, but share a unique bond that was forged during this trial. Together, we made one of the most serious decisions of our lives. It wasn't an easy task and it took a heavy toll on many of us. It probably cost me my job, but I have no regrets whatsoever. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

For those that use various tactics to avoid jury duty, I say: go ahead and good luck. I wouldn't trust people like you with such a serious task anyway.

Of course, you want to know what the verdict was. One man was acquitted, the other found guilty of first degree murder. One went home to his family, the other to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. None of it changed the fact that four children are growing up without their mother.