Jury Duty- A Rant (sort of)

At the beginning of this year, my wife and I were volunteering in Big Bend National Park. While there we would have our mail forwarded to us every few weeks. With the internet now days, there is very little that we receive in the mail except a couple of magazines.

When we left the park, we had our mail forwarded to us in Alpine, Texas where we were waiting on repairs to our car.  In the mail was a notice to my wife for jury duty. The only problem was that the date to appear was already passed! She called the person in charge of the jury selection process and explained our situation, that we were retired and spent most of our time on the road away from our location of residency (we’re full time RV’rs). The gentleman was very understanding and told her to come in and volunteer for jury duty the next time we were going to be in town. Because of the extent of the repairs needed our car and other obligations, it was 4 months before we made it back ‘home’ to volunteer for jury duty.

It has amazed me that, almost to a person, the response we get from people when telling them about the jury duty is to tell us how to get out of it. What!! One of the foundations of our country, the U.S.A., was the judicial system in which a person is entitled to a trail before a jury of their peers. The key word is entitled. This is a privilege not given in many parts of the world today. To me, this means that jury duty  is a basic responsibility of every citizen qualified to sit on a jury. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it seems to me that if more people accepted the responsibilities of their citizenship in this country instead of trying to duck them, there would be fewer problems. Irresponsible people leads to irresponsible government.

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About tedgriffith

I'm a financial counselor/coach who loves photgraphy.
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2 Responses to Jury Duty- A Rant (sort of)

  1. Well said. True of all communities.

  2. I did *not* enjoy my time as a juror. It took me away from my paying work (and made me have to figure out how to cover what I ‘should’ have been doing, at my own expense), it put me—a horrible sociophobe—in close quarters with a bunch of strangers in intense situations for the duration of the trial, and it exposed some of the things I’d wished were only fictional parts of our imperfect judicial system. And I have no regrets that I served. It is, as you say, incumbent on us all who reap the benefits of citizenship to shoulder the tiny bit of responsibility required of us in return, but it also provides first-person insight into what does and doesn’t ‘work’ in our national daily life. And I *did* gain the opportunity to see how a group of committed strangers were able to come together and, despite the systemic flaws, find a way to discuss respectfully what we understood to be the situation, resolve some of the ‘issues’ we were called upon to solve, and come to a verdict that, perhaps *because* it didn’t please any of the parties perfectly but was supported by the facts of the case, seemed to me both fair and just. Nobody really “won” anything major, but nobody exactly “lost,” either. And possibly, this was a microcosmic representation of our own reason for being there: the job of finding some sort of balance to the scales of an imbalanced system within an imperfect world. As much as I disliked many things about that experience, it gave me an important change of perspective and a reassurance that doing one’s duty isn’t something to evade even when it’s less than jolly fun from end to end.

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