Friday, June 10, 2011

The Reluctant Juror II

Maybe it was when I said we were at a tipping point in this country, with bankers and politicians seemingly impervious to prosecution for any perceived crimes. Or perhaps it was when I said our two-tiered legal system was becoming too blatant, with certain people "too big to be prosecuted"; even the pretense of parity was being laughingly ignored, while the rest of us were going through the usual motions of the justice machine. No, probably it was when I looked the prosecuting attorney in the eyes and told her I thought the defendant was innocent until she proved to me he wasn't, just as the judge had admonished us in the beginning, and she said, "Well, PRESUMED innocent", and I wondered out loud if things weren't a bit, shall we say, "unbalanced" in terms of our current level of justice and if maybe, just maybe, we weren't in a period of taking a coupla steps back for each step forward. I was in the row in front of the actual jury box and a gentleman behind me had said that even after several hundred years we were still wrestling with this justice thing and I agreed with him, but couldn't help wondering if we were in a period of slippage.

I was astonished as I sat in the courtroom waiting to be brought up on the panel when another panelist who was up there before me said he felt our current jury system was unfair to the average working person. I couldn't remember ever hearing anyone say something like that, and as I said in my last post, I've been in this situation at least a dozen times. Everyone is usually so concerned about being "polite" and/or getting out of jury duty with some personal excuse. I have not agreed with trying to evade jury duty. I don't know about you, but in my life I've done very few things "for my community", and jury duty is at least one thing I can do. But the times they are a-changin'. I know there are those in this country who refuse to serve on a jury for various "political" reasons, but I had never personally heard anyone say it in an actual courtroom setting. And at least as long as I was there, I heard three people (including myself) touch on this.

At no point did I say I would not serve on that jury, and of course would have if chosen. When it came time for the prosecuting attorney to ask people to leave, her first pick was someone else behind me in the actual jury box. The judge, as is the procedure, then asked me to get up and take that person's seat. As I rose, the prosecuting attorney interrupted and said, "That's okay, your honor, Mr. Fuller is excused". I left and as I passed her she smiled. We separated on good terms.

There were three more panels that day but I was not chosen for any of them. My duty had ended, at least for another 18 months.

No comments:

Post a Comment