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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jury Duty

I got a summons for jury duty in the mail. A lot of people get them and think "Awwww, sh*t! How can I get outta this?" My first reaction is "Oh, look - here's an opportunity to make a difference. I hope I can make room in my schedule."

Attitude is everything.

Each time I've served I've grumbled silently about having to be on such a strict schedule. Getting up early and driving to the courthouse just reminds me of the few times I've challenged a traffic violation and crossed my fingers that the officer who cited me wouldn't show up, but he did. I'm thinking about the depressing and dangerous, the abuse of power and corruption. There are a lot of unpleasant things going on in courthouses and the waiting around is exhausting and boring to be sure, but in the bigger scheme of things I think it's a privilege to serve, and to serve objectively, honestly and respectfully.

I've been selected and placed on juries. I've been the Foreman or the Alternate on occasion. It's a commitment to being an integral part of the justice system that has me feeling the serious weight of the responsibility and the absolute respect for the privilege to serve, not because the system is perfect, but because it's what we've got and it should work for most of the people most of the time. That makes being a part of it worthwhile.

I'm fascinated by the process. I'm fascinated by what is said, and what isn't said, what happens and what doesn't happen. There is so much going on and it's interesting to watch it all unfold.

I'm a people watcher and behavior observer. I do it because it's entertaining but really it's how I've learned to understand people. Observing people in a jury room is like the Olympics of people watching - a veritable goldmine! Every potential juror is a registered voter. That's it. That's how they were chosen, the reason they got a jury summons - they vote. Well, they can if they want to, and that's a whole other story...

Being surrounded by people who don't have anything else in common offers such diversity. Airports are good for this reason too. I imagine all sorts of things about people; where they're from, who they spend their time with, what they think, what they intended their style to say about them, if they have pets, what their bathroom looked like when they left the house that morning, who they're talking to on the phone, what kind of underwear they're wearing, does the carpet match the drapes? The possibilities for amusement are endless.

And I never know who I might meet. It can be fun to exchange a little conversation with someone I otherwise might not have an opportunity to meet. I know a couple that met in the jury room and fell in love. Now that would have been fun to watch come together!

Inside the courtroom I'm paying close attention to how everyone postures themselves, how they relate to each other, their tone of voice, and I'm weighing the information and following directions as instructed by the judge. I'm acutely aware of what and how much is at stake for those involved. I go through the process and am satisfied that I participated in something meaningful.

Sure, I'm still wondering where was the craziest place everyone ever had sex, but I'm not distracted by it.