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Apollo Sunrise

Something I've never done before...

I spent most of this past week doing jury duty. Aside from the suckage of having to take unpaid time off from work, and the sheer amount of time spent waiting around in hallways while the court’s “five minute break” turns into 45 minutes* (akin to sports time, I guess, where the last minute of the game takes more like half an hour), it was a fascinating experience.

In any given group of people, particularly in the mundane world, I’m the one with the heretic thought. If some people are saying “black” and the rest are saying “white”, I’m the one saying “purple!” Since I’m one of those Myers-Briggs personality types that comprise only 1% of the population, I was really worried that this was going to turn into an “11 people think this, 1 person thinks that” situation. At first it seemed this was exactly what was going to happen.

It was obvious once we started talking that most people had already made a preliminary decision. The case seemed very simple. The few people who spoke up at first were clearly leaning toward a guilty verdict. And yet...

I didn’t buy it. I had too many questions about the testimony; there were too many loose ends.

It was fascinating to see how the jury deliberation process actually works. Because as soon as people began to explain why they thought the defendant was guilty, others, myself included, spoke up and explained why we felt the reverse. We discussed the pros and cons of the evidence, and quite suddenly the mood in the room reached a tipping point and people said they were changing their minds. We hadn’t been there more than half an hour before it was quite clear our deliberations were done. “Not guilty.”

One thing I hadn’t really anticipated was how I’d respond when the verdict was read. I couldn’t see the defendant’s face, but I could see her husband, seated out in the audience area. When he heard “not guilty” he buried his face in his hands and started crying.

Later, I was with other members of the jury, heading to get our “proof of service” forms. We stepped into the elevator. Just as the doors began to close, the woman and her husband paused and looked at us. She bowed to us (she was Chinese and had to testify through a Mandarin interpreter) and said, “Thank you.”

It’s interesting to think how much impact we can have on the lives of other people.

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* Though I did make good use of the time by reading most of a book I’ve had on my “to read” list for ages: “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess”, a truly fascinating book and one worth posts all on its own, but that’s for another time. For one thing, I have to finish reading the book....!

Comments

Jury duty is a fascinating study of people. You really do get a Hollywood cross-section of America in those jury rooms. A book or notebook is a godsend because unless you're seated on a jury, you're bored stiff. :)

Also, you are practically a prisoner as you can't go here, can't go there, yadda yadda yadda.
I brought along a book, two magazines, and a manuscript to edit. :-)

Cross-section is right. Literally. There was a Hollywood sound-man on the jury, and he was one of the people who picked apart the evidence that had to do with the police "wire" that was used.
I brought along a book, two magazines, and a manuscript to edit. :-)

LOL! Quite the Girl Scout! ;)

Cross-section is right. Literally. There was a Hollywood sound-man on the jury, and he was one of the people who picked apart the evidence that had to do with the police "wire" that was used.

Wow! That's right, you living where you do, you'd get some actual Hollywood people. :)

Luckily it didn't turn into 12 Angry Men. ;)
>>>Luckily it didn't turn into 12 Angry Men. ;)

I am *so* grateful. It took us half an hour to come to a verdict, tops. And then we had to wait for another half hour before the judge was ready for us to return.
Whew! You got lucky! :)

BTW, are you going to MWC this year?
>>>BTW, are you going to MWC this year?

Yes!!! I didn't think I was going to be able to go for the longest time, but things worked out. I have my plane ticket, I have my table. I never did hear back about a room, but I'll be staying in a friend's room instead.
Yay! I, too, was uncertain for awhile. Mel and I were notified of a room early, so less stress for that! :) We're planning a Boston Legal door. She's a big fan of the show, and I like William Shatner, the show's set in Boston, and there's gay marriage and pink flamingoes. What's not to love? ;)

I hope to see the ST movie before I go. I figure I'll be irritated by a lot of the changes, but it'll help my stress levels if I just consider it an AU, like Smallville is a Superman AU. ;)
Mel and I were notified of a room early, so less stress for that! :)

Yay! It ticks me off that I haven't even been notified at all.

We're planning a Boston Legal door. She's a big fan of the show, and I like William Shatner, the show's set in Boston, and there's gay marriage and pink flamingoes. What's not to love? ;)

That should be lots of fun! I love the show; it's so full of irreverance and in-jokes and drama at the same time.

I hope to see the ST movie before I go. I figure I'll be irritated by a lot of the changes, but it'll help my stress levels if I just consider it an AU, like Smallville is a Superman AU.

It's definitely an AU, they're not making any secret of that, and in a way I think that's better. Plus all the reviews says it's "true to the spirit of the original", so I hope that really does come across. Counting the days now!
See you there!
Good for you for doing your civic duty. And for doing it in the way it's supposed to be done which is thoughtfully and thoroughly.
That's exactly what happened - all of us really discussed the evidence - almost everyone had something to contribute.
I've managed to get out of jury duty about six times so far (most of the summonses came while I was in hospital), but I'm dreading it. Most of the cases are for 16 weeks, and there's no way I can make it on what they pay for that length of time.
16 weeks! The only people who could afford to be on those kind of trials are housewives and retired people. How do people manage?