Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jury Selection

I was called in for jury selection today. Had to be there at 8:30 and was there twelve minutes early, my mistake. They didn’t even open the doors until 8:37 and didn’t get started until well after 9:00.


So impressive that I was in a bad attitude state of mind before they even started asking questions. What I was thinking of while I was waiting was that the first time Ben and I went to the city/county building – I cannot recall what for exactly, but we had to go for some county business reason – we went into the office we had to report to and there were five or six people in there. Three were reading books, one was knitting or doing needlework or something and the other one was talking with the needlework person. They ignored us until we practically shouted out a question.

I guess we were a bother in their busy schedules.

So, as you can deduce, I was actually already quite impressed with our county workers before today. Then, albeit quite late, the show began. The case was an attempted murder being prosecuted by the state and we were warned early on in the prosecuting attorney’s period for questioning the potential jurors that there were pictures of the victims having been stabbed depicting various knife wounds and intestines hanging out. The victims, obviously, survived and were in the courtroom, sitting at the very back. I was thinking of those grisly pictures when the attorney asked us to raise our hands if we felt the defendant deserved an impartial jury. I couldn’t raise my hand. It became more and more apparent as the morning slogged on into the defense attorney’s questioning that the question was not whether or not the defendant stabbed the victims, and no one seemed willing to even say he might not have done it. The question was whether or not the defendant was guilty of attempted murder. Semantics? Anyway, the defense attorney asked me a few questions because I hadn’t raised my hand and I evidently failed the test, because in the end they didn’t select me to be on the jury.

The case was a bit intriguing to me, not because I believed, from what they “told us” that the defendant could be ‘innocent,’ but because I wondered how he could be considered ‘not guilty.’

I honestly do believe everyone deserves a fair trial and though I intend never to do anything that would land me in a court as a defendant (my conscience would be far worse on me than the jury ever could), I deeply appreciate that our system was not based on the old systems of the old countries which took not the attitude of the defendant being innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but that their defendants were guilty until proven innocent.

However, I do find it rather dismaying that our court cases seem to have turned into a game between the lawyers: may the best lawyer win. I saw that game played in part today as they were ‘questioning’ potential jurors by asking questions that actually told us what they hoped we would not only say, but believe throughout the trial. While questioning me about not raising my hand, the defense attorney asked me if I believed it was possible that ‘a defendant’ could be found innocent even though he or she may have wielded a weapon better than the other person or people involved, who may have come out worse; that it could be self-defense. While most of the other jurors agreed that, “of course” it was possible, I could only say that it would depend upon whatever other evidence came out about other weapons and so forth.  Maybe I’m cynical, but most of the potential jurors fell for the game and played their positions as pawns quite well. They proudly repeated what each other said about being impartial and non-judgmental with phrases the attorneys planted in our minds. Perhaps, then, I’m a heretic, not believing some concept simply because it was presented to me as Truth and is the popular concept to believe.

I think it would have been very interesting being a part of this trial, but I guess I don’t play this game well enough with others – and maybe not any game, since so many of the personal questions they asked us were evidently posed for them to discern how well we do play with others.

But, then, on the other hand, since this is our busiest time of year in the studio, I am a little relieved I wasn’t chosen this time. Perhaps some day I will get the chance to witness firsthand how the rest of that game is played out. This is, though, the first time I have been requested to attend a jury selection, even though this year is the fifth time I have been selected for jury service; maybe they know something about me not being the kind of game-player they want and they’re not telling me. S’pose?


Sunset a few hours after I got home today.



Hungarian Partridges in our front yard a couple of days ago.



And the evidence is in: life can be so beautiful if we just let it be.

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