Thursday, October 14, 2010

Summons

I got something in the mail today. 

A jury summons. 

I haven't received one in a long time.  A very long time.  The last time I had jury duty was in the year 2000, during my last summer break in law school.  I made it as far as voir dire before I got booted.  I really wanted to get placed on a jury. 

I've always had a natural fascination with the legal process, always wondered what it was like to be on the other side.  From the time I was a little girl, sitting in the chair between my uncle and the defendant in court, I've been in love. 

He was a public defender back then, my godfather.  He'd pick me up for a few days and I'd tag along with him.  He was a kicking ass and taking names kind of defense attorney back then.  A staunch defender of the Constitution and his personal bible, the Bill of Rights. 

He taught me to fight.  He taught me what the right thing was.  He made me want to be a lawyer.

Fast forward a few decades, and I was sitting in the jury box awaiting questioning by the prosecution and defense attorneys.   I knew it was a long shot that I'd get seated just because I was in law school, but I thought there was a chance.  After all, my civil procedure professor had been seated on a jury earlier that year....and I must tell you that he is the absolute last person you'd want on a jury.  Seriously, what lawyer would let him sit???  He was a quirky genius with the deepest understanding of the intricacies of one of the most boring, yet most pivotal parts of law.  He got seated, maybe I would too.  At least I hoped so.

It wasn't meant to be.  That year was a particularly rough one for me, and the trial I was in for was a criminal one.  One of the first questions they asked each potential juror was if they, a family member or friend had been a victim of a crime.  A few months before that my uncle had been killed by a drunk and high driver and a friend of mine was kidnapped by a serial rapist.  Though I never doubted my ability to be objective, the defense attorney did.  I was dismissed.   I can't say I blame the guy for using a challenge on me.  I would have if I was in his position.

Ever since 2000, I've had a newborn whenever I got a summons in the mail.  I've been automatically excluded from service. 

This is the first notice I've received here in Colorado.  And the first time since 2000 that I haven't had a tiny little person to care for.  I have people here I can entrust with the care of my children, and I'm not beholden to any employer.  I have no reason to be excluded. 

I am excited.  I know, I am odd.  Most people get a jury summons in the mail and try to find a way to get out of going.  Or they hope they can go for a day and get dismissed.  Or they get into voir dire and act all crazy like so they get booted (at some point, they might be on to that trick, by the way....you know who you are...)

I have always looked at jury duty as more than a legal obligation.  It is an absolutely essential part of a fair legal system.  Think about it...if you ever found yourself behind the defendant's table, wouldn't you want a jury of your peers?  I know I would.  A jury of people who just didn't have a good enough excuse isn't a jury of anybody's peers.

I challenge you all to take your next summons more seriously.  Look at it as a civic duty, not just something you can be in trouble for if you don't show up.

I'm looking forward to my chance.  I'd love to be seated on a jury.  For all the reasons I've always wanted to serve, and for a new one since having children.

I could use 8 hours a day to myself.

If I say please, do you think they will let me stay?

2 comments:

  1. I've been called to Jury duty twice now in Colorado. The first, I was able to postpone until I was done nursing. Charlotte was just over 14 months old and I was ecstatic. I had always, like you, wanted to sit on a Jury. In California I had only gone once, but was never even called into a Jury room. Here in Larimer County, they took every single one of us that was called that day into the court room. There was something like 100 of us. I sat there all day, waiting to get called into the jury box...I just wanted to be questioned. And it was a good one, date rape. I was one of about 15 left who were never questioned or dismissed by the judge. In fact, I rode my bike, since we only had one car and the whole process for the day was running over. It was coming up on 6:00 and they had picked their jury, they just had to swear them in...and I had to beg the bailiff to speak to the judge to let me go, as I didn't want to ride in the dark, I didn't come prepared for that. It was the first time I missed putting Charlotte to bed. I didn't get to even kiss my baby goodnight. It was devastating to me.

    Because I am still nursing Rebecca, I've been postponing...I'm supposed to go in December....but like I've said, Rebecca doesn't seem like she's going to let me wean her.

    Have fun and enjoy the process, or the 8 hours of sitting in a courtroom again. I found it fascinating.

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  2. I have never tried to get out of jury duty. I've always felt it was my duty and I kindof enjoy the process as well. It's always been fascinating to me.

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