For all of you who think you can avoid jury duty, let me tell you. I am a lawyer, have been on a reality show and am on the radio (all three things that they say will get you struck from a jury) and I was chosen for a jury.Â Anything is possible!
Truth be told, I have always wanted jury duty, but once I graduated from law school, I accepted the fact that would never be chosen for a jury. I have been called for jury duty three times before, but never summoned.
Here are my stages of Jury Duty.
Stage One – Denial:
I sat there with 45 other potential jurors for â€œvoir dire,â€ which is what they call the process of choosing a jury.Â I was juror #18 and was asked enough questions for them to know about my current and past jobs. With 12 people on the jury and 1 alternate, I knew there was a chance, but I thought I was safe. Yet still, something in my pit told me I might be in trouble. I had too much to do to have to rearrange everything for jury duty by golly!
When the Judge Triana began reading the name of the jurors, it was like in slow motion. Juror #1 didnâ€™t make it. Juror #2 made it, and so on and so on. I was the 11th juror calledâ€”â€œRoxanne Wilsonâ€ she said. And I sat there for a moment wondering if I heard her correctly.Â I was on a jury!!!
Judge Triana excused the unlucky and turned her attention to the â€œluckyâ€ ones. Those sitting in the jurors box now-which would be our seat of honor for about a week. As Judge Triana was giving us instructions I was seriously in a daze! I was supposed to be at Tiara Tuesday in fifteen minutes, do the show in the morning, teach Jazzercise the next day, be at Main Event that evening and on and on. Who was going to do all of that?Â See if you are chosen, your service started when you got there for voir dire. The trial has started and it is go, go, go.
The judge released us for the night and I started making phone calls and sending texts and emails getting everything taken care of.
Stage two â€“ Anger:
My state of shock switched to anger on Day 2. I was so annoyed with the attorneys for not striking me. The entire first day I was so mad at those attorneys. How dare they?
As soon as we got other there one of the jurors was excused because her daughter had the flu.Â 1 down, 12 to go. And I truly thought, she is so lucky!
I was sitting in a jury box without my computer or my cell phone, totally cut off all of civilization! Ahhhhhh!
Stage three -Acceptance:
I couldnâ€™t help it. I started to thaw out darnit. I donâ€™t know if it was the fact that I know serving on a jury is my civic duty, or that it was exciting seeing a case from this point of view, or the fact that the case was interesting, but I thawed.
We werenâ€™t allowed to talk about the case until the attorney rested their case, so instead we learned about each other. I had the pleasure of getting to know jurors. We were definitely a diverse group in thought and experience. Of note one was a River listener another was an Apple computers Apple Care representative, and yet another a Mighty Fine cashier. At the beginning of week two, one of the jurorâ€™s arrived and started asking me specific questions about the Riverâ€”it was like a checklist. It turns out his wife who listens to us in the mornings was convinced that he was on the jury with me, and she was right. Â She told him to hurry up so that I could get back to the Family Friendly Mornings Show.
Stage four -Investment:
Soon I found myself seriously invested in the case. I was getting annoyed with witnesses I thought were lying. I was intently listening to experts, and I even had to stop myself from blurting out questions I had about the case in court.
Speaking of the case, here is what happened: A spry 91-yr old woman who was legally blind was walking in a furniture store parking lot and tripped over a parking stop in a handicapped space. The parking stop had over a foot of exposed rebar (two long pieces of metal).Â She face-planted and sadly became a partial quadriplegic. She was suing the furniture for the incident.
Because no one actually saw her fall, it came down to a â€˜he said she saidâ€™ on where her body was after the fall.
Stage five â€“ Advocate:
By the time the judge read the charge, I was ready to advocate for opinion. I mean surely the rest of the jurors saw it the same way right? And even if they didnâ€™t I figured I could be persuasive. Ha. That lasted for all of 15 minutesâ€¦
Stage six -Peace Maker:
My advocacy lasted all of 15 minutes, because I was chosen to be the presiding juror (also called the foreman).Â Not sure why they entrusted me, but I was up for the challenge. That meant that on top of having a voice in a room of 12, I had to make sure that everyone elseâ€™s voice was heard and that we carefully considered the case.Â Easier said than done.Â Seriously.
When we went around the room, it was clear that we couldnâ€™t have been farther away from each other on how the case should shake out.Â And no one wanted to budge! In fact the consensus was that we would rather have a hung jury (no decision) then hash it out.
We went to the judge with that exact decision, and she summoned us into the courtroom to remind us of the importance of the case and parties, and the need for a solution. She basically wanted us to be sure before we threw our hands up and quit.
We trudged through for four days (do you realize that the Devoe case was deliberated on for 22 minutes!?) until we came toÂ a decision. In fact we set a record in Judge Trianaâ€™s court for the longest deliberation.
Stage seven â€“Relief:
When we came to a decision and the judge read it in court, I actually got emotional and started to cry. I was sooo emotionally exhausted. The night before we came to a consensus, no one slept well. We carried the burden of the future of both parties. None of us wanted to screw it up. I didnâ€™t even realize how stressful it was until it was over.
Stage eight â€“Debrief:
Little did I know that one of the coolest things about the experience was at the end. I donâ€™t know if all judges to this, but Judge Triana who by the way is pretty amazing. In addition to being an excellent judge, she is a mother of five. Judge Triana sat down with us and allowed us to ask her questions about the case. Then the attorneys came in and we were able to ask questions of each other.Â We all shared this common experience and to finally be able to discuss it as a group. It was a perfect wrap up to the process.
I took the opportunity to ask the attorneys why I was chosen. One attorney said because I was an attorney (huh??), he thought I wouldnâ€™t be swayed by emotion. The other said because I was a Christian and a Jazzercise instructor!
I can personally testify, jury duty gets a bad rap, no one ever talks about it as a good thing. Â If you get a jury summons, you might think twice about finding ways to get out of it. Yes it is an inconvenience on you â€“ family, work, etc., but it really is an important and rewarding process. Ironically that is exactly what the Judge and attorneys said at the beginning yet, I just didnâ€™t believe them.