If you read my post “Surrendering Again” from last Saturday, you might remember that I was called for jury duty on Monday. I really had to surrender that whole thing. I admit, I was totally selfish. Monday was my day off, and by gosh, I wanted to do what I wanted to do…take my kids and their friends to the water park for the day.
But instead, God had other plans for me…plans for me to be on a jury.
Monday morning I arrived and checked in at the courthouse a few minutes before 8:30, the appointed time we potential jurors were to arrive. There were maybe 30 people sitting with me in the courtroom by 9am. According to the automated message I listened to, jurors #3 through #89 were to report. That means there should have been 86 people present. Since there wasn’t enough jurors to choose from, they needed to call more people in who didn’t report that morning but whom were supposed to.
We waited and waited for what seemed like hours. Finally, close to 10am more people came streaming into the courtroom, and I found it interesting that I knew three of them from my hometown. It was frustrating having to wait, but since I passed the time reading my book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, I could hardly justify being angry at these other “Ragamuffins” like myself. 🙂
They called 25 people forward. I was called 15th. I sat next to a neighbor of mine. The prosecution and defense both asked us questions in determining who they needed to strike from being a juror. Once they shared it was a burglary case, I figured that was going to be my ticket out of there since we were burglarized not that long ago in our buildings next to our home. I shared our experience with the court, but I guess they wanted to strike others more than they wanted to strike me. I ended up being chosen as one of the 12 jurors plus an alternate.
I wasn’t ready for this. I called Tina in tears. I seriously had in my mind that I would be returning back home that afternoon and still be able to enjoy a half day off. It never even entered my mind that I would be selected. We had details to work out for the Mission, and I had details to work out at home. Bill was just into day two of RAGBRAI, and I didn’t want to burden him on his trip as we talked through texts that afternoon. I certainly went through a myriad of emotions in a matter of minutes!
Court reconvened that afternoon and the first witness was called. I went from dreading this experience to actually finding it all fascinating. I listened to each witness’ testimony as if my life depended on it…it didn’t take me long for the reality to sink in that the defendant’s life did depend on it. For that afternoon and the next morning, I listened, took notes and enjoyed what I was experiencing. And I prayed that God would give me wisdom, discernment and strength.
On our breaks I was able to meet some pretty wonderful people…a stay-at-home mom who home schools her four children, an I.T. guy for a local school, a local university professor, two girls that attended college together, and I was able to reconnect with three others whom I already knew. They were all feeling the way I was…dreading it at first, but finding the experience to be better than expected.
After lunch on Tuesday closing arguments were given and it was our turn to deliberate. Our phones were taken from us and for two hours we discussed, we shared, we looked at evidence again, we took our responsibilities seriously. This was my favorite part, and actually, I really got into it. I felt like I lit up when I presented my thoughts, and I felt like the others really listened to what I had to say. We all listened to each other. We came to a verdict and I believe all were pleased that we worked together so well.
The jury found the defendant not guilty of burglary or criminal trespass, but guilty of theft in the 2nd degree.
We couldn’t talk about the case to anyone during the two days of trial, but we can share what we want to now since it’s over. I honored that. But I also had thoughts of, “I’ll be making a blog post about this experience.” 🙂
Looking back, I’m thankful I was given this incredible opportunity to serve. I learned so much through this experience. I am also thankful, though, that it only lasted two days. 🙂
I received a letter from the judge in the mail today, thanking me for my service. This was an unexpected blessing. Part of it read, “I recognize you made personal sacrifices and that you experienced inconveniences and disruptions in your personal life by spending the time with this case. Please know that I recognize the difficulty of the work you were asked to do in this case, and I appreciate your time and attention to the case.” And another part… “Your service as a juror was important to your country, to your state, and to your community. You have a right to be proud of yourself for having served in such an important role. Thank you again for your service.”
I believe God blessed me in ways I certainly didn’t expect through being a juror. My encouragement to you, if you ever get called, would be to be honest and don’t do what you can to just get out of it…don’t fear the experience. It may just bless you like it did me!
Another new experience on this adventure with God! 🙂
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