October 2 – some thoughts, day after

some thoughts, day after
Jury Duty, angry bunch
warning signs to see

I have been called for jury duty a half dozen times.

I have been on 3 or 4 panels but only one jury.

My co-jurors in the pool have always been good natured about our common situation.

And my co-jurors have always been VERY respectful of the process and the system we now found ourselves in.

We knew that their were rules, customs and even language that we didn’t understand or need to understand and we were all determined to see this through.

But not yesterday.

First there was an undercurrent of plain old, ‘I am in a bad mood and I don’t care’ in the jury pool room.

As the bailiffs worked to shepherd us into panels, there was little good nature as people had to move and sit tight together in assigned order.

When my panel made it into the courtroom, the mood, if anything, got uglier.

There were 21 of us to make a 6 member jury for a domestic violence case that would be held that afternoon.

During the voir dire process, some of my co jurors became, well, beligerent.

The prosecuting attorney asked for a show of hands if anyone had had an encounter with a Gwinnett County Police Officer.

All the hand shot up.

The prosecuting attorney then went one by one through the jurors asking them to describe their encounter and would it impact their decision.

It was like offering a place to take a stand and speak their minds to a bunch of people who had had no voice for too long and they had some official representatives of Gwinnett County who were going to hear what was on their minds.

When this was over, I was pretty sure the guy on trial was going to walk.

Then the prosecuting attorney asked for a show of hands of anyone who had experienced Domestic Violence in their families.

BOOM all the hands go up and again the prosecuting attorney goes one by one giving each person a moment to vent.

AND VENT THEY DID.

I wanted to cry over some of the stories.

Some were beyond belief.

Many were again indictments of a system that had failed them and these court people were going to hear about it.

Everyone had a story and never did the man in the story come out as the good guy.

When this round of answers was over, I knew that the guy on trial was going down and going down HARD.

Not to be out down, the defense attorney asked, “Do any of you feel you are a part of or know of a dysfunctional family situation?”

BANG up go all the hands and again, one by one, we get to describe why we felt that way.

By this time, bailiffs are passing out Kleenex and hugs are being exchanged between jurors.

It got to the point that the lady next to me said to the court, “Listening to all these stories, my family is nothing like that, just cussing and drinking and getting in each others business. You know, NORMAL DYSFUNCTION.”

What is Normal Dysfunction?

After yesterday, I feel I know.

And ON it went.

Somehow, 6 people were selected out this bunch and the rest of us were excused.

Outside the courtroom, tears and hugs broke out again.

I think the court was as relieved as we were to be able to leave.

It was a cross section of my community.

And it wasn’t a happy bunch.

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