Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jury Duty!

I reported to Sussex County Superior Court at 9:00 a.m. this morning to start my latest round of jury duty.

Here in Sussex, we serve in the jury pool for two weeks. During that time, we’re on-call to be picked for a trial. If we get picked for a long trial, we’re there for the duration. Otherwise, we’re back into the pool.

My jury duty started on August 15 and runs through the 26th. We call a special phone number each evening and a recording tells us whether to report or not the following morning. We were not asked to come in until today and today appears to be our only day of duty for this week. Next week? Who knows?

We were there today for a quick orientation to jury duty and for 40 of us to sit as a jury pool for the Court of Common Pleas. I wasn’t among the 40 chosen randomly and so by 10:30 I was headed north to my office.

I looked around the courtroom this morning at what is meant to be a random cross section of Sussex County residents. I think it was. A few young folks, a fair number of retirees; some African American, some Latino, the majority Caucasian.

I would be willing to wager that I was the only – or at least one of the only – folks there who was hoping to sit in the jury box for a trial. Most folks are resentful of an intrusion into their routine; they spend the time worrying about work or wishing they were back home.

I think it really is a part of our duty as citizens to serve on juries. We should vote. We should speak up on issues (after first learning about them). We should serve our jury duty. The legal system really does depend on us; I’m glad to serve.

Also, from a selfish point of view, I’m fascinated by the legal process. I’d like to watch a trial from up-close, without being a defendant, a witness, or a victim.

So, we’ll see what next week brings. If I do get on a jury, though, I won’t be blogging about it. Maybe I will post about it after it ends, but then only about the experience and not about any details of the trial. I think that that would be inappropriate.    

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