Have You Ever Served on A Jury?

Have you ever served on a jury? I had to appear in court last Thursday as part of a jury pool.  We had to be there by 8am downtown in a very large city in our county.  We live in a small community over 30 miles away.

I had not driven downtown in over 10 years and never drive at night anymore.  Well, it was still dark when I left home and it did not get light until I was downtown looking for the parking garage.  Needless to say I was very tense and nervous being unfamiliar with the route and figuring out the one way streets and getting there on time.

I am over 65 and have anxiety attacks when under stress which causes pain in my chest and stomach with weakness in both arms and then I break out into a sweat.  There is no warning when one will happen.  The pills the doctor gave me work well but takes from 15 minutes to 2 hours to calm everything down.

As I got cut off and missed the exit from the freeway I got an attack and had to stop and park at the next exit to take a pill and calm down.  This is why I called it an ordeal.

Sitting around in the jury pool room waiting to be assigned to a particular court is not a problem as I always take a book with me to read.  

Finally 60 of us were selected out of 100's for a criminal court and we were sent to another floor.  More waiting in the hallway for the Judge to call us in.    

Finally we were told the 'good' news and the 'bad' news.  We could go home but had to be back the next morning.  I tried to find out if I could be excused because our family only have two vehicles, my and my daughter/hubbys, which he uses to be at work by 6am.  My daughter had an appointed scheduled for 9:30am on Friday and wanted me with her since she was seeing a specialist in blood diseases.  But they would not excuse me because of that. 

But I do thank God it was for 11am and not 8am!  

So Friday I got there okay but had an attack as I was entering the courthouse (20 minutes early).  So I took a pill and just sat and waited to calm down.  We again waited in the hallway for the Judge to call us in.  Finally got called in and was told by the Judge that we would all break for an hour lunch after her speech to welcome us and explain that this was a child molestation case.

I am also hard of hearing and thought she was using the molestation case as an example of the type of cases her court handled.  Well, at lunch one the other ladies in the jury pool explained what the case would be about.

Now I am again upset because I had been abused as a child and really did not want to explain that or deal with this case at all.

We go back to the court room and was told we should be finished by 4 or 5pm.  We sat through the prosecutions questions and speech and then the accuser's lawyers questions and speech.  

They do not question each person, they just ask you to raise your hand if you have an opinion about any thing they brought up.  We were told that if we did not offer an opinion then we would be picked to sit on the jury because they had no wait to know what we thought and nothing to base elimination on.

They asked if anyone had ever served on a criminal jury before and about 5 of us had.  I served on a murder case in south Texas many years ago and we found the person guilt.

We were also told that if we had "excuses or reasons" we believed would eliminate us from servicing to raise your hand, which I did along with about 20 others of the 60.  They took our numbers, which we were given when we lined up to enter the court, and told us if we needed to explain in private with the Judge to raise your hands, which about 10 of us did.  Then they tried to get people to explain in front of everyone and I along with the other 9 or so had to keep repeating that we wished a private talk.

One man older then me was almost in tears with a shaky voice, explained he had a daughter molested but would not discuss it further in front of everyone.

Finally at 4:30 we were given a 20 minute break.  Then 30 minutes later we go back in and listen to the Judge explain how her court would work and what our responsibilities would be as a juror.  Then they ask everyone to leave except the 10 or so of us who wished to speak privately.  They allowed each person to step up to the Judge's bench with lawyers on one side and prosecutors on the other side to hear why you think you should be excused.  Since I was #47 I was the next to last person to talk with the Judge.

After explaining why I did not want to service they just said thank you and sent me out with the others.  We again wait in the hallway while they decide who the 12 will be, calling two different people back in for more questions.

Finally at 10 minutes to 6pm they called us all back in and read the names of those chosen to serve and finally released the rest of us.

I truly think it was cruel making those folks, including me, sit through all that before releasing us.  I was so shocked at how many people have had to deal with child molestation and rape, either themselves or a close relative.   There were at least 3 other people there that broke down and cried when talking privately with Judge.  

I really think they should ask people up front and deal with eliminating them right away instead of putting them through such an emotional wringer.

I do think everyone should serve on a jury at least once in their lifetime but I pray you never have to sit on one that involves a molested or murdered child.

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