So roll the clock back about a month ago... I receive a notice in the mail letting me know that I have been officially summoned. Yes I received my call to duty... jury duty! I laugh when I receive the letter, "I wont have to go," I say. I stick the note on the fridge and go on with my everyday life. Well the evening of February 3 rolls around and I remember that I must call in to see if my number has been chosen for duty the following day. I think, "There is no way I will have to go in." I am even praying that is the case because I have made no preparations for taking off a day of work. For a teacher to take off work isn't exactly easy. I have to find a sub and then I have to make sub plans! Sub plans are my least favorite thing about teaching. I think that is what keeps me from ever taking off a day of work.
I am juror number 3415 so I call into the automated system to see what numbers need to report. I hear the following, "On Wednesday, February 4 at 8:30 at 1437 Bannock St. the following jurors need to report: 1000 - 3614!" What?! I panic! I hang up and dial again. Yep, the same message plays again. I pull out my sub list and start dialing. I guess it is true that the third time is a charm. The third sub I call is available. I then head back to school at 8:00 p.m. to get everything ready for the sub. 2 hours after I arrive at school I am good to go.
I wake up Thursday morning excited that I might have the afternoon off to get some things done. I am still in denial that I may be selected as a juror. I am sure I would't be put on a case. I figure I will wait around for a few hours, my name won't be called, and I will head out to do some seriously needed grocery shopping.
Here is what my day actually looked like:
8:15- Leave house- Hey at least I got to sleep in a little!
8:30- I have parked and checked in. Luckily I live down the street from the court house.
8:32- I start grading papers, in a room with 300 people, while we all wait and wait!
9:00- We watch a cheesy video on how great is is to serve on a jury.
10:30- I make it through the first round of numbers without mine being called... yes!
10:40- I hear "3415". Dang it! I shout "Here!" I pack up my bag and head into the hall with the other 21 people that were called to the same case. But I still have hope that I won't be out on a case.
11:00- Head into court room where jury selection begins.
11:15- 4 jurors are sent home. I am not one of them!
11:45- 3 more jurors are sent home. I am still not one of them. Now it is time to get personal. Yes I am asked everything from my mom's occupation to what type of music I listen to. Basically, if you have ever seen "Runaway Jury" with John Cusack, you know how this works.
12:15- Everyone is sent home except the final 6 jurors. I am a chosen one! I went from being Juror #3415 to Juror #5.
1:30- It begins- opening statements and the DA brings in his 3 witnesses. I try to keep an open mind. We are told that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. I try to keep that in mind for as long as possible. Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for my outlook to change. Too soon is he proven guilty and I find myself fighting to look for something that might prove him innocent.
4:00- It begins again- The defense brings in their witnesses- all friends of the man being charged, one was even a felon. You can imagine how reliable we think these testimonies are. Also, the defense attorney is annoying! He keeps talking and talking. Later I find out this is a tactic to confuse the jury so hopefully the jury will mistake that confusion for reasonable doubt. Too bad for him it really just hurts his cause. None of us are buying what he has to say.
6:00- Closing statements
6:30- It's our time to decide! We head to the jury room to deliberate. My fellow jury members are pretty cool. We get right to business. We pick a jury foreperson. We look at the issues and the evidence. We all feel the same way. There really isn't any arguing.
7:30- Back in court room. The judge reads the verdict. The man on trial is found guilty on three accounts. 1. He is found guilty of an illegal lane change. 2. He is found guilty of driving while having a blood alcohol level of .137 3. He is found guilty of driving while ability impaired(DWAI). Unfortunately, we couldn't find him guilty of a DUI because he was a pretty good drunk driver.
I don't know what will happen to this man that we convicted, but I am sure by the look on the lawyers face when we read the verdict that it will not be good. It is scary to think that I had such an impact on a person's liberty.
All in all it was a good day- although not the day that I had expected. I am glad that I had this experience. It was interesting to be a part of the judicial process.