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Do your duty

Jury duty is a civic duty for which no one volunteers but when called, good citizens step up for many reasons.

One is the thought that if you were the one on trial you would want to have jurors who take it seriously. A second is you would also want jurors who were intelligent yet don’t use that intelligence to get out of serving.

As we went through the jury selection process when I served the first time, it was heartening to see the frank responses to questions, yet nearly every person in the jury pool said they could overcome or overlook their own experiences and deliberate fairly. That’s all you can ask.

Questions by the lawyers ranged from do you have any physical reasons you can’t serve such as hearing, eyesight, bad back that precludes sitting for long stretches? They also asked about past happenings in your life that relate to the charges in the cases — happenings that would cloud your judgment of the facts as presented.

“Ah, yes, the lawyers. Part of their persona leads to the dramatic, and they need to be quite careful not to go into so much repetition of a point that it seems either silly or relentless.”

Since our civics classes — for some of us that was many years ago — we often heard the words, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that is required for verdicts in criminal cases. That means after all of the lawyers have committed “lawyery,” witnesses have spoken and the jury deliberates, is it an absolute belief to each juror that the charges brought were actually perpetrated by the defendant?


Ah, yes, the lawyers. Part of their persona leads to the dramatic, and they need to be quite careful not to go into so much repetition of a point that it seems either silly or relentless. We heard it the first time, a second time may reinforce, but after that is it insulting to the jurors and everyone else present. I’m sure lawyers are schooled in the art yet they need to be realistic too.

The lawyers could be viewed as entertainment, if there weren’t such serious matters at hand. They play off each other, objecting or pointing out to the jurors, the “tricks” of the other lawyer. Come on, we all had speech 101 and part of that was persuasive speech. Jurors are instructed to only weigh the testimony of witnesses and jurors are told that the lawyer’s presentations are not to impact a jury, however, in reality the lawyers know they are influential in what the jurors think.

The second time I was on a jury, during the deliberation phase of the trial the same thing happened as in the first jury on which I served; we had so many questions that went unasked by the lawyers we wished we could have a crack at asking questions ourselves. All in all the vast life experiences by members of the jury led to very interesting discussions. We had written copies of the specific laws to decide the case and that was immensely helpful in deliberations.

Should you be called, please serve if you can. It renews your faith in our system. ❖




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