Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jury Duty

Not that long ago my son learned about Our American Freedoms in History. Personally, I never knew we had so many freedoms. How many can you come up with?
Will I will help you out and give you one. We have the freedom/right to a trial by jury. It's a great thing in our country that we are innocent until proven guilty and that we have the right to a fair trial by jury of our peers.
Last week I was summoned to jury duty. Six months ago I turned into the questionnaire and last week was my week of service. While the timing was not the most ideal, as we are still in the thick of schooling, I was excited about seeing what happens in our local judicial process. The summons was for one week or one trial. Last weekend I called in and the recording stated I was to go in Monday morning.
I have never had a substitute teacher before. Ever. In the past if I was not available, there was no school for the day. With school already pushing until the end of June, each day is precious in completing our curriculum. Sunday night I got all the lesson plans around, thankful that it was already a lighter day than normal. I took them over to my mom's and showed her what was what. Complete with post it note instructions. I saved the actual Phonics lesson for when I got home, even if it meant after dinner home work. Monday morning, we got up earlier than we ever have as a family. Out the door before 7am. With hubby to work and the kids at my parents,I headed downtown to the court house. I have a dear friend who lives a few blocks from the courthouse so I parked at her house so I did not have to worry about paying to park.
Before my appointed 8am time I was nicely seated in the jurors assembly room with 100 or so other jurors. We went through an orientation and then waited for a judge to call us up for the selection process.
When the judge called us up, they crammed 55 of us potential jurors into the court room. We swore to tell the truth and then we were seated. The judge introduced the prosocuting attorney, the defense attorney and the other court staff present. Next, the computer randomly selected 13 of the 55 to be seated in the jurors box. I was not one of them. Instead I remained seated and listened to the process of selecting a FAIR jury. To make sure that the defendant is given a fair jury, many questions were asked of the jurors to make sure none had a bias one way or the other. The questions were interesting. After the long questioning session, each lawyer was alloed to excuse jurors in the box with or without a given reason. As each juror was excused another name was called into the box and they went through a questioning period, much briefer and usually ending in an immediate dismissal of that person. This process went on until both lawyers were content with the jury and then we were dismissed. The whole process of selecting the jury took about two hours and forty-five minutes. At 12:15 we were free to go.
Here's the great part, I am getting paid for going in and learning about the judicial process. For my 4 hours and 15 minutes of my time I will be receiving a check of $25. Most people when they are summoned to serve jury duty take a pay cut to serve. Not me, it was a pay raise. And since it was after noon, it was considered a full day. Yippee!
After I left the courthouse I walked back to my friends house and had lunch with her before going to pick up the kids.
They were so excited to find out what art project grandma had planned that they were finished with the school stuff I had sent for them by 9:30am. They cruised through school. I was able to finish up the Phonics lesson when we got home. So it all worked out very well.

Although I had to call in every night for the remainder of the week, I never did have to go back in. Oh and just in case you were wondering, I never did get called into the box. Although I know I would have been dismissed had I been called in. I knew one of the witnesses and the plaintiff was a 7 year old boy, the same age as my son. So there you have my adventure exploring one of our American Freedoms. Anyone want to guess how many freedoms we have?

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