Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One cog in the machine of justice

Well, I was excused from jury duty a couple of hours ago, owing to the fact that I have to be able to pick up The Daughter from the day camp she attends at a time before that at which court itself adjourns for the day, coupled with the fact that The Wife can't pick up The Daughter from said camp because she works a night schedule while I work a day schedule. This is the outcome I was hoping for.

As I noted yesterday, I'd been terribly worried about how executing jury duty would work for me, in the event I was chosen to sit on a jury, mainly for the reason stated above -- but also for a number of other reasons that have everything to do with my personal life and nothing at all to do with a lackadaisical attitude I have toward the justice system. So, for anyone who read that post and assumed that I either generically hate the concept of jury duty or discount its importance in American civic life (and, judging by my e-mail, comments, and even an IM or two, there were a number of readers who took that interpretation of that post), please give me a little credit and assume that maybe I had real, cogent reasons for not wanting to be placed on a jury at this time, OK?

I am well aware of the fact that trial by jury is the best possible system we're ever likely to find as a society to resolving legal disputes or enacting criminal justice. I am also well aware that there's a reason why the courts are such an enduring setting for storytellers in all genres and media. But the fact also exists that the civic and the personal do not always line up neatly, and that one person might find the prospect of jury duty thrilling and exciting at one point in their lives but find it a colossal inconvenience at another.

Anyway, the process itself -- as much as I saw of it -- was fairly dull to sit through, but I do have to commend those in charge of its mechanisms for making it about as pleasant as it can be. The whole process is actually quite a lot more congenial than we're led to expect from watching trials on TV and in movies; the judge wasn't a stern figure looming over everything from above, and the two lawyers seemed friendly enough as well. The instructions were all very clear, as were the various directions given to us throughout the day (or, rather, my half of the day). It was, frankly, about as confusion-free a governmental process as I've ever seen. If only they had free parking for jurors!

(Oh, and judging by some of the outfits I observed, I probably could have worn overalls to court. Live and learn, I guess.)


Bill said...

Fair enough. See you in six years-- unless you get a letter from Federal Court.

Kelly Sedinger said...

Federal court? AIEEE!!!

What kind of cases go on in a federal court, anyway?

Kevin J. Hosey said...

For starters, Jaquandor, all bank robberies are federal prosecutions/trials. There are also mail fraud and federal tax cases, etc.

Kelly Sedinger said...

I knew that tax stuff was in Federal court, but I was unaware that bank robberies were Fed cases too.