I, The Jury
EARLY THIS MORNING I WAS QUIETLY SLUMPED OVER MY COFFEE when I overheard a conversation from the next table. It seems that one of the men sitting there had been called for Jury Duty. My ears began to twitch and I inched a little closer.
The gentleman said that he reported to the County Courthouse the day before anxious and willing to do his civic duty. Apparently that was when things began to fall apart.
I listened to his tale of the jury selection process known to lawyers and actors on “Law and Order” as “Voir Dire.” The literal translation of that phrase is “to see to say.” In other words “What the heck did that clown say?”
It is during this part of courtroom proceedings when every whacko with a pulse gets the chance to decide the fate of other people.
While I continued to drop from the eaves of the next table I heard the fellow tell his tablemate about the “voir dire” of one other prospective juror. The lawyer asked a few basic questions about the guy’s occupation and education before he got down to the nitty-gritty.
“Have you formed any opinions about the guilt or innocence of the defendant?”
The man being questioned didn’t figure that out. His reply was, “Well, he wouldn’t have been arrested if he wasn’t guilty.”
(Loud Buzzer Sound) “I’m sorry that is incorrect, but thanks for playing our game! We have some lovely parting gifts for you and show in the next contestant, Johnnie!”
Supposedly that man was an educated professional with a basic grasp of reality. Everyone in the courtroom, however, came to a different opinion. If that man wanted to be excused from Jury Duty he sure found a quick and ugly way to do it.
I have been called for Jury Duty about a half dozen times. I’ve never been selected. I’ve never even gotten as far as the guy who had his mind made up about the fellow in the orange jumpsuit.
I would like to serve on a jury just for the experience. I’ve seen enough movies that appear to make it look quite interesting. I think I would be a good juror. I’m sane. I’m fair and I’m a good listener. I would try to give everyone a fair shake until they prove to me that they weren’t being square with me. You smack me, as a citizen, I smack back.
The jury system, properly employed, is reasonable and fair. Improperly employed it is as fair as a foot race between an Olympic sprinter and a dead man. The system has flaws and does make horrific mistakes, but I can only think of one better way to do things.
In an ideal world everyone would have to agree that I should be crowned as King and have the power of life and death over everyone.
Are there any takers on that idea?
I didn’t think so.