I was called for jury duty recently. I'm sure that anyone who gets the summons in the mail feels that same sense of dread. Usually, the next line of thought is, "How am I gonna get out of this?" Now, I always joke about how I would get out of serving when I say I'll go in and blurt out, "I can spot a guilty guy a mile away!," or "Off with his head!" or something similar. Well realistically, you can't do that. There are legitimate reasons to not serve, and those are not evident until the actual jury selection process. If you try any of those hare-brained approaches mentioned previously, there's a good chance that you'll be cited for contempt of court, and pay a hefty fine. The fact is, it is your civic duty to serve on a jury. I am very glad that I did. I'm not lying when I tell you that it will, in all probability, remain one of the more memorable events in my life. Seriously. It was fascinating, and interesting, and solemn, and important. It's not like it is on the court room dramas that we see on TV. Sure, the surroundings are what you'd expect, and all of the principals are there: judge, lawyers, prosecutors, defendant, sheriff's deputies. But when you sit in that jury box and listen to testimony and opening & closing statements, the reality is inescapable. And it's very powerful. At least it was for me. As my jury duty was for a criminal case, it was jarringly real to know that myself and 11 other individuals were going to decide the fate of 2 people, with one of them very possibly going to jail. Jail is not a place you or I would wanna be. I found myself totally immersed in the whole procedure. I listened intently to every word that was said by everyone involved. You have to. This is not TV where there's going to be a commercial break. This is not Judge Judy. This was real life. The deliberations were very intense and at times troubling. 12 people in a room deciding the fate of someone based on information that was gleaned from the trial. Sometimes, you can't get all of the info that you might want in order to reach a verdict, and that adds to the difficulty of reaching a unanimous decision. But in the end, that is what is needed-unaniminity. After having answered the call to serve my civic duty, I feel more than ever that if you're called, you need to do it. Look forward to it, embrace it, be involved in it, and see 1st hand how our judicial system works. And it does work. No system is perfect, but I believe that the way we do it in the U.S. is as close as you can get. An amazing experience.
Your name popped into my head so I googled you. Remember your stage 16 roommate? I'm living in Westchester with my wife of 23 yrs and twin 15-yr old daughters..... living life the best I can. I hope you're doing well in Rochester. R u keeping in touch with Trento? Let me know if this is reall you.