I remember getting that yellow letter in the mail, you’ve been summoned for jury duty. I was so excited I’m 31 years old and I know people that have got the letter but it finally came to me! I was thrilled to do my civic duty.
Monday came I entered a room full of people over a hundred at least I was told over 200 were actually summoned. So one by one we all entered the courtroom. We were called up in groups of 12….I had been called in the first group…wow the questioning for jury duty is intense I felt I shared half my business with so many total strangers including the man on trial. The judge 👨⚖️ left the details to a very minimum to keep people and privacy under control. So after being asked the 12 questions we all have to answer each side gets to ask a few more questions (to help them decide who to pick) I guess each side the defendant and the state get so many choices. I still to this day wonder what question I answered to get me chosen and by whom.
After the first batch of 12 was set down they went through another group and another slowly but surely 5 jurors were chosen by lunch….and at this point I’ve been told that there was an alleged charge involving a death and possession. Let’s just say I no longer took this lightly….if I was chosen there had to be a reason for it. Well as people were called I turned into juror #4 and we began a six day journey.
I became juror number #4 all I could do for the next 6 business days was listen. Listen to every detail, listen to every witness trust that I would by the end of this trial have enough information to make the right decision. I sat in the courtroom from 9-5 listening and writing down information. Information that on day 6 would help me come up with my decision.
Now this wasn’t a minor traffic violation or a speeding ticket. The testimonies I heard crushed my heart at times both for the defense and the state. But this was a persons life we were altering from what I had been told was the defendant in this case was already in custody for the alleged charges for the past nearly 3 years. The other person that had been involved in this case was no longer alive. Emotions were high, I remember crying at night sometimes over the case that week. But I couldn’t talk to anyone other than in the jury room so holding all these emotions, questions thoughts was awful. By day 2 I had decided I no longer was excited about jury duty.
So six business days has came and we have come to the point of closing arguments. Here it is the make or break does one side have the missing puzzle pieces? The arguments ended I remember looking at the defendant and the state one last time before we left to deliberate. 3 hours later 12 jurors had reached verdicts on 3 charges that could change one mans life forever. Did we or didn’t we have enough information? Can we just ask a few of our own questions? Nope this is it. The evidence has been placed before you this is it. We made our decisions.
We walked back into a courtroom with people waiting for us to deliver good or bad news I’m still not sure which. But the judge was passed out verdict…..he read it allowed on all 3 charges we find the defendant-not guilty. I felt a weight literally come off my shoulders it was no longer up to me to make choices for someone else’s fate.
It’s been nearly 5 months since I made that decision. I still think about this case. I drive past the scene of the accident a few times a week for baseball games and now notice something I never noticed all the times I passed it before the trial. Sometimes I just wonder and have so many more questions. I was so excited for jury duty but I never expected it to change me in so many ways of my own life. I see the defendant (who is not guilty) in other people but I also see the deceased in other people I wonder with my anxious mind.
I pray for the family involved. I pray the person that was on trial now gets to live a full and hopefully happy safe life. But I’d be lying if I’d say this trial didn’t change me for life….