catalenamara (catalenamara) wrote,
catalenamara
catalenamara

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....!
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