Sitting on a jury was, for me, a humbling experience. A form of service to the community that is vastly under appreciated. Many people gripe and complain about jury duty, or joke about it, and I suppose I, too, have been guilty of the same. But the simple fact of the matter is: while I and my eleven colleagues on this jury in King County, Washington, may have found ourselves inconvenienced with the time we spent away from our jobs and our homes, and while we may found ourselves woefully underpaid for what is such an important obligation for society, the fate of a defendant was solidly in the hands of myself and eleven others.
How can anyone take such a grave responsibility lightly?
In our criminal case, the accused had already been arrested and charged. He had one shot at justice: the twelve men and women in the box, listening to the evidence.
In the end, the prosecution failed to prove its case and the defendant was acquitted.
After the trial, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney spent a few minutes in the jury room with us discussing the trial. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney were candid in explaining their strategies to us, and were interested in how we as a group went about coming up with our verdict.
The conversation was informative and enlightening, and I was reminded again that the process works in this, the greatest free society in the history of the world.