Virginia CalvinVirginia Calvin

By Virginia

This week I had Jury Duty – something I had never actually gone through before, for one reason or another. Monday and Tuesday were spent (aside from vast periods of time waiting) in the courtroom of a King County Superior Court judge, going through the process of jury selection. I had no idea that this would be such an intense experience! Or that it would in fact be so hard to get dismissed. I was finally dismissed on the basis of “hardship” – it would be extremely detrimental to my income to spend a month away from work on this trial – but only after the court was satisfied there were enough other impartial jurors that they could let a few of us go.

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After 2 days of very pointed questioning I felt like I knew many of the 75 potential jurors. You start out guarding your privacy, but as the attorneys call on various jurors and ask specific questions, people begin to open up. So many questions began “Have you ever experienced xxxx?” and we jurors would be obliged to raise our number placards (no names, only numbers).

I began to understand what a skill it is, on the part of the attorneys, to be able to lead the questioning into a place where people would in fact display their inherent biases or their potential to be swayed by their emotions. And through it all we were continually reminded that we were expected to consider the evidence and obey the instructions of the judge regarding the law.

There were fellow citizens who disclosed up front that they WOULDN’T obey the instructions of the judge if they felt that the law was wrong. There were others who said right away that they completely sympathized with one side or the other. There were many whose work was too closely related to one of the issues being decided in court, or people who knew too much about this particular case from prior publicity or from knowing witnesses.

I came away from this experience very moved by this voir dire process, and the counsel of the judge regarding our obligation as citizens to participate in jury trials.

If you are called for Jury Duty, I recommend you do it!

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Jury Duty – Do it!