A week ago my jury service ended when our group of 12 citizens delivered verdicts to the court and all involved. It had been a full and interesting three days.
It’s in my nature to reflect upon new experiences and came up with this list of observations.
It’s a Small World
After years of watching Law & Order, I expected a large, grand courtroom. Although the courthouse is fairly new and in great shape, the room itself is pretty small.
There was room for only 40 observers and the witness box is about 4-5 feet from the closest juror. Even worse, the court reporter’s box was right in the front of the witness box.
The building holds about 30 courtrooms so it is a better use of space and more efficient than using a large room for every three day trial.
Most of the people reporting for jury service were college students, retirees or middle-aged. We probably had way more college students than normal because it was still the break.
My jury panel was comprised of 6 people in their 20s, 5 in their 50s/60s and 1 in her 30s. That last group probably can’t serve as often due to family obligations.
The only thing we all had in common is residence in the same county.
Age Adds Perspective
I noted during the votes and deliberations that took place the older group (including myself) seemed to believe that nothing is clear cut when it comes to people. Just because the defendant made mistakes doesn’t automatically mean he/she was guilty of the charges.
The youngsters didn’t seem to see the greys in life; it was black and white to them. I found this very interesting and I hope they did as well.
The Process Works
The group of 12 strangers heard testimony, saw evidence and came to a consensus on three separate counts. It wasn’t without several hours of deliberation and many re-votes.
The jury instructions were extremely helpful in guiding us on how to interpret the law. They laid out what conditions must have been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to find the defendant guilty.
In California, I’m now excused from service for three years. Many people try to avoid jury service, but it is a great way to give back to the community. Even Axl Rose served last week!
Every citizen should experience the process once. It will restore or strengthen your faith in the system. If you have served on a jury, what do you think of the experience?
photo by uberzombie