My Happy Place

My Happy Place

Jury Duty, Anyone?

As my husband drove off for jury duty this morning, seventeen-year-old memories of my time as a juror assaulted me. I was twenty-three years old and a new school teacher. I was concerned about leaving my classroom in the care of a substitute teacher, but the judge wasn’t overly concerned about such a thing.  He also wasn’t worried that the defense lawyer was my husband’s best friend.

Welcome to my happy place.


The actual case is foggy to me now. I remember the accused was a young man with a wife and child. I know that if he were found guilty, he would have to go to jail for two years. I also remember that during the trial I wasn’t convinced that he was guilty, and I was shocked after the case was presented, to walk in to a room of fellow jurors and find many of them thought he was. There were a few who weren’t sure. One juror, however, was an opinionated older lady whose daughter had been murdered and she had a personal reason to be suspicious. She was vocal. She was convincing. Soon there were eleven jurors assuming the man was guilty.

And then there was me.

After awhile those eleven jurors became frustrated with me and the vocal, opinionated, grandmother-type became especially irritated. I felt naive and gullible for thinking the man was innocent. There were gaps in the story. I wasn’t sure. They seemed so sure. I relented.


I remember feeling almost apologetic for my doubts.

Later that afternoon I confronted my husband’s friend at his house with the opening sentence, “You have to tell me….he was guilty, right?” My friend looked so sad. He said, “Of all the people I’ve represented, this was the first one I truly believed was innocent.”

I like to think I’d handle such a situation better now. May I never apologize for believing the best in someone.

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posted September 17, 2012 at 9:14 am

I was just chosen to be on the jury of a car accident case last month. I was excited because I have never even gone to jury duty before and now I was on the jury. The case started getting exciting when they brought out the nurse expert witness but during the next break the case was settled. We were all talking about the case and it turns out I was the only one that thought it wasn’t the guys fault. We would have been sitting there in deliberation for a very long time because I would not have changed my mind just because the other jurors wanted me to.

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your friend from the north

posted September 30, 2011 at 10:46 am

PS Have you seen 12 angry men?? If not netflix it…you will LOVE it…get the old one w/ Henry Fonda. It deals with EXACTLY what you went through

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your friend from the north

posted September 27, 2011 at 11:48 am

If it makes you feel better, you are not the only one that gets faced with a juror that has their mind made up and works hard to convince the other jurors that just because the person is accused of the crime, then he/she MUST be guilty. While the process is not full proof, it is better than other judicial processes that are out there. I use this story in my classes to convey to students that they need to stand up for what they believe in…no matter if it seems to go against everyone else. Additionally, I think it also speaks to our raising…we were taught to revere our elders, and therefore as a young “whipper-snapper” we don’t feel right questioning our elders.

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    posted September 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I hate that attitude of “accused means guilty” and it was rampant in that jury room. I wish I could go back in time…now an old “whipper-snapper” and stand up to that woman! :)

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posted September 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

I understand that in Oklahoma one no longer has to serve on juries after age 65, or is it 70? Strange…. Those are people who don’t have jobs to leave while serving….

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    posted September 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

    And…truly…a 70-year-old would most likely not have been intimidated like I was at 23.

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