I get lots of junk in the mail, I get magazines, I get credit card solicitations, I get numerous bills, but I don't get many personal letters. Last month, I got a letter in the mail. It was not addressed to Occupant or resident, but to me personally. It was from our County Circuit Court and it was a summons for Jury Duty.
"Hey, hey," I exclaimed to my wife. "Look, I get to do my job as a citizen."
My wife didn't seem to be all that impressed, but I was. People don't get this sort of mail everyday.
"Look at this Claudia." I gushed. "I get to do something worthwhile and responsible, and they say that they will even pay me for it."
"Lots of Luck." Said my wife
The summons letter gave me a time and place to report for "Juror Orientation." It stated that I should wear appropriate clothes.
I was not sure what they meant by "appropriate clothing." I decided that the safe thing would be for me to wear a sports coat and tie. (I remember the first time that I went to an Opera. I was afraid that I would have to wear a Tux. I wore a suit, and that was good because I discovered that the only people that wore tuxedos were the Ushers and Orchestra). So it was with Jury duty, I was pleased to find out that I really didn't have to dress up. Only two people sported ties, a person who happened to be a funeral director and myself.
Jury orientation was kind of fun. They showed us a video. Some people seemed bored, but I enjoyed it. The Video related: "Trial by jury has been a cornerstone of freedom and justice for centuries… Your public service as a juror is one of the most important functions of our democracy." The right of trial by jury was adopted by the US when we chose the British System of law. It's origins go back well before the 12th century and we have enshrined this right in both the Six and Seventh amendments of our Constitution.
We were told that we were selected at random from a master list of County voters. All Jurors must be U.S. citizens, local residents, legal age, approved integrity (what ever that meant), and of reasonable intelligence. We were told that our serving as Jurors was an honor, and that we should be proud to be part of a system that allows for us to be able to pass judgment on our peers. Some people quietly made scoffing noises, but I didn't. I had to admit that I felt proud to be part of our Democratic process. They also told us that if a person ignores a summons for jury duty, or if a person fails to complete jury service, that they can be held in contempt. I was unsure what would happen, if person were held in contempt. I suspected that it wouldn't be very nice.
We were informed that anyone who has already served on Jury duty, in a State or