I finally got released from jury duty, halfway through day three, and I’m exhausted. This (actual jury selection) is the farthest I’ve ever made it. That means it’s also the first time I’ve been in a criminal court since 1997, when I had to go face the guy that stabbed me. Having a pair of lawyers asking me about it really churned up a lot of things that I thought I had put behind me. Needless to say, despite my desire to do my duty I’m not cut out to be a fair and impartial juror and I’m home now.
It was also trying because I had to sit and listen to a day and a half of armchair lawyering and attempts to wriggle out of service by my fellow jurors. It’s amazing the kind of ridiculous moral ground people will stand just in an attempt to get out of jury service. Like, once they’ve said something really stupid and the judge or lawyer has pointed out the how silly it is, they just can’t back down. One girl argued that her family was “really against sexual battery,” to which the judge curty replied “I think most families would argue against sexual battery.” And what’s worse is I really think that people fight and complain about jury duty just because that’s the model they’ve learned, not because it’s really unpleasant. The majority of people (though not me) are paid for jury leave, and the hours rule. In at 10:30, an hour and half lunch, out at 4:30, typically with two 15 minute breaks wedged in there somewhere. And often they don’t need you exactly at those times so you can chill out and read a book or check your email or whatever.
More importantly, that guy in the defendant’s seat deserves a fair trial. Everybody liked to laugh and joke and make a game out of it, but this guy’s life could be ruined. What if he was your brother or your father or your son? So many people spent so much energy arguing that there was no way they could help but identify with a victim that they never asked themselves that.