Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jury Duty

I just got a letter summoning me to jury duty in April. This is my second time to be called up for jury duty. The first time was about 6 years ago. I had a preschooler at home, and tried to get out of it on the grounds that I am his caretaker, but the judge made me call my father in law and ask him if he could babysit during my duty.

In some ways I wouldn't have minded serving for that case, but it was a child molestation case, so I really didn't want to do it. They planned to have children testifying in court, I knew that would be extremely difficult to witness. When I arrived, they had us fill out a questionairre. I had to list any experience I had with this subject matter. I have had many friends who were victims as children, and I listed those. I also had met a man who had just been found guilty of this crime, and watched as he prepared to fill his prison sentence. In some strange way, I felt sorry for him, even though of course I felt most sorry for his victims. But it was sad to see someone destroy their own life, not to mention the lives of his victims. I made some comment about this in my questionairre, and I think this gave the defense hope that I would be sympathetic to the defendant. I also had an experience as a child where I was approached by a teenager who would have liked to have made me his victim, but I refused, and was able to get away from him safely. I told this also in my questionairre. I would have thought that the defense would have rejected me as a juror because of these things, but they actually chose me, and I was asked to take a seat up in the jury box.

Shortly after, we took a break. When the break was over, I was the first person to come back in to the room. The defendant was seated by himself at the table. I looked over at him and saw him looking at me smiling. He was definitely trying to make eye contact with me, and trying to sort of feel me out for how sympathetic I was to him. I did not think it appropriate for him to try to win my sympathies, or to try to form any kind of relationship with me, so I averted my gaze and refused to make eye contact with him. The rest of the jurors came in the room and were seated. His defense lawyer came in and was quietly talking with him. Then we resumed jury selection. Within about 5 minutes, I was dismissed from jury duty. To this day, I know that I was dismissed because I refused to make eye contact with him. It's really too bad because I do think I could have been a good juror. But I still believe it wasn't my job to be his friend, but to be his jury and listen to the facts. I have to admit that I'm a little stressed at the thought of going through that again.

I'm also stressed that I might have the same type case to have to possibly be a juror for. When I was in the court room last time, the judge was questioning me about some of my responses on the form I filled out. I asked him a question. I said, "Is it the jury's responsibilty to determine sentencing? Because I don't know if there is a punishment bad enough to fit this crime." He said that it was his duty to determine sentencing. I still feel that way about child abuse. There is no amount of punishment that can make up for the damage done to the child's life. Those who are victims of child abuse carry the scars for the rest of their lives. I think one of the big scars is an inability to trust again. How can even life imprisonment make up for how a child's mind is changed forever? I think that crimes against children are the most serious because they are the most innocent, and most helpless of all people. I think that in the eyes of God, those who hurt children carry some of the greatest sin.
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matt. 18:6

I do think it would be interesting to sit on a jury, and I think I would learn a lot about our jury system. I think I could be a good juror, I'm fairly intelligent and somewhat well educated. But I really hope that if I am chosen as a juror, that the subject matter is less sressful.


Nene said...

I've received 2 jury summons in my life, but both times I had small children at home and so just put that info on there and took it to have it notarized and sent it back and I never had to go. I know I'm running against the odds now though and figure I'll eventually get another one.

Lindsay-Weaver said...

I've been summoned twice. Once was local, and once supposed to be held at our capitol city. When I was summoned to go to the capitol city, I was on notice for 6 months. I was summoned three times during that period and had to call the Friday before and all three times, they had rescheduled. Lucky me. LOL


Max said...

Hey D! were called up? I always wanted to know what was like to be in that position, what a person thinks, feels...
Child molestation? That is absolutely terrible, my friend *nodding*!

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you; it must have been frightening, even though the guy was unsuccessful!

Trying to win the sympathy of the jurors is absolutely normal! After all his fate is in your hands.
I agree with you: there isn't enough punishment for child abusers! And there is no forgiveness for what they do.

I wish you all the luck in the world, D *crossing my fingers*!


Dr.Psycho said...

I worked with sex offenders on my internship and it really is sad to see how they destroy their lives...I felt somewhat sorry for those who made a mistake 1X and ended up with charges, but most of them were serial pedophiles with long histories of victims.

Also, they are notorious for trying to invade boundaries so we would make it very clear what the boundaries were...for example, we wouldn't shake hands if they offered their hand to us, but it was okay if we offered our hand to them.. I am sure in some ways he was trying to invade boundaries just like he has probably done his entire life...and sadly enough, invading the most precious of boundaries is why he will eventually end up in prison..