Last Friday afternoon I went to the mailbox to retrieve the day’s mail. There was a large envelope with my name on it, sent by a Phelps County official. I was curious about this piece of mail so I opened it immediately. When I saw the word “juror” printed on the letter, I was surprised and also felt a bit of trepidation. I had been summoned to appear for jury duty.
I have never been summoned for jury duty before. The letter had an accompanying question and answer form which I filled out later that evening. One question asked if I was related to a law enforcement agent. I am, but he is retired, and doesn’t live in Missouri. I wondered if the answer I gave to that one question would strike me off of a lawyer’s juror list? The letter stated that I would be considered for serving on a petit jury. I didn’t know what that term meant so I did some research. Petit juries are the ones we think of thanks to many television shows and movies. It’s the jury made up of 12 citizens having to reach an unaimous decision as to someone’s innocence or guilt. The letter also reminded me to dress appropriately for my day at the courthouse: no jeans, no t-shirts with any words on them. That reminder sort of made me chuckle, but then I recalled what some Americans wear when out in public and I decided that that reminder was needed in the letter.
If I am picked to serve, it is for a several month span of time, and one of those weeks has already been set and planned for a family vacation. The condo is already reserved! I really hope that I won’t be summoned for that week. I don’t have any medical conditions that would keep me from serving. I do home school our three youngest children and I don’t know if that would excuse me from serving or not. Since I am a stay at home mom, there is no job that I would need to be excused for.
Visions of courtroom dramas from the entertainment world keep filling my imagination. Will it be a case that leads to a jury arguing with one another like in 12 Angry Men?
Actually, I am hoping that if I do get selected for a petit jury, that it will be a simple traffic case and not a disturbing criminal case. Some well meaning friends have shared with me court cases where they almost were selected or a loved one was on the jury and the weight of the responsibility sat heavily on the juror they knew. One friend was selected for a jury case that would have been devastating to sit through and fortunately the perpetrator decided to plead guilty and the trial was dismissed, my friend not needed to be on that jury at all.
I have decided that the day that I spend at the courthouse should be looked at as an educational experience. It will be interesting to me, to see how the wheels of justice work, to be able to be a part of that process, to fulfill my civic duty. I also plan on visiting the library and having a good book to read. That should help immensely!