Sunday, November 21, 2010

jury duty

several weeks ago i received my first jury summons in the mail. dallas county was requesting that i take the day off work to wait around hours upon hours at frank crowley court house for the possibility that i might make it on a real life jury panel. welp, turns out i am good juror material because i was one of the 12 out of the 65 that was selected to be on the jury. did i mention it was for a murder trial?? yes, it was for a murder trial.

so there i was....and once the judge read the indictment, i had to ask myself, can i do this? can i be fair and impartial based on the evidence presented? what a responsibility and weighty role to take on. what if the defendant isn't guilty and we give him 40 years or even worse- life? what if he is truly guilty, but there isn't enough evidence to prove it?? what about justice then? these were all questions i was asking myself while sitting in that terribly hard wooden bench in the 1st criminal district room. but deep down, i did feel that i could do this task through God's wisdom and i felt that if i was selected, it was simply God's sovereignty that i be put on that panel. soo are you wondering what happened??

so last monday, after much prayer, i returned to frank crowley to report to the jury room to begin the trial. of course, i hit traffic and was the last juror there, but it didn't matter...everyone was waiting for the trial to begin and it was a busy day in the court room. about 45 minutes later the judge came in and told us that the defendant and the state had come to an agreement and that the defendant plead out. trial and no jury needed. so he goes on to tell us that he got 31 years in prison for this brutal stabbing. the judge explained that this often happens once the jury is selected because it puts the pressure on the defendant and his attorney and forces them to come to an agreement that may be a better punishment than what a jury would give. so i guess they felt that 31 years in prison was a fair and just punishment for the crime. it's possible we could have given him more...but i guess we'll never know. do you think 31 years in prison is a fair punishment? how do you determine how many years is appropriate for a murder?? ...(you can read the details of the crime at the link's a really sad story).

so that was my jury duty experience. i will say that i learned a lot about how the justice system works. and it really hit me that average joe people serve as jurors, then given the evidence and the rule of law....they decide the fate and punishment of others (you could argue that the individual committing the crime decided their fate, but you get what i'm saying...). it's really a crazy idea, but it also makes sense. it made me thankful to be a part of a justice system where the people actually have a say. i know there are lots of flaws to it, but i do think having a jury is a legitimate set up and i am glad i was able to serve in the way that i did. plus, i made a whopping $46 for my day and a half served....extra spending money for clothes thanks to Dallas county. anyways, thanks for reading.... and here is the article below if you want to read it.


Tamra said...

You got a small glimpse of my work environment for the last 32 years. You will get another chance, I promise.

manice said...

It's a pain in the...but it's important justice for those charged when good people like you show up giving it their all to be a voice in deciding their guilt or innocence.