Jury duty update

February was a crazy month! I ended up on a month long trial, serving as a juror. I’ve always been intrigued by our court system in this country and luckily, this time was a great time for me to serve. My job paid for (most) of the jury service, and I was not in school. So, the service was minimally disruptive. A few thoughts on jury services:

1) I wish real life were more like jury deliberations. The people on my jury were amazing: we were an extremely diverse group, yet people were able to listen to each other’s arguments and actually change their minds on issues(!!) when the argument made sense. Some people even worked through some pretty severe biases/emotional issues to move to a more logical point of view. A beautiful thing.

2) I ended up being the official foreperson. Now, this is a thankless job that involves lots of paperwork and mediation and for some reason absolutely no one wanted it. The first thing you do when you enter the deliberation phase of a trial is elect a foreperson. No one volunteered, so to prime the pump and get others to feel comfortable with offering to serve, I said “If no one else has a burning desire to serve, I’m happy to do so”, and about .5 seconds later, I was the elected foreperson. I have to thank one of my fellow jurors for evening planting the idea in my head: she told me she thought I’d be a good foreperson, and I practically fell out of my seat laughing. But it put the idea there. Thanks, E!

3) Being elected foreperson was, as most leadership experiences are, deeply humbling and thought provoking. I have to say that even though I’m married, almost 30, have a Master’s degree, and have deliberately changed by personal style of dress/hair to be more sophisticated, I’m not used to other people treating me like a “real” grown up. I was the second youngest person on this jury (but several other people were very close in age to me), and I was flabbergasted that they would so readily give me this position.

4) Thankfully for me and fortunately for everyone else, I had an unofficial co-foreperson who was about 2 million times better at my job than I was. Thank God, I saw this and relied heavily on (and learned a lot from) his negotiating and management skills. He was truly gifted and the main reason for our success.Thanks, G!

5) Also thankfully, everyone on the jury was extraordinarily supportive and conscientious.

7) I was able to ask my dear friend, Tamster what her jury foreperson did (she was on a 9 month long trial!) to make the deliberation process smoother. I presented the ideas as an “experiment” and everyone loved them so much that they started asking to repeat the new process with each count that we decided on!

6) It was still a ridiculously stressful process. Being locked in a room with 11 other people deciding the fate of others is quite traumatic, even the law and judge’s instructions as a guide.

7) Funny/embarrassing story: our judge was astoundingly smart and quick. On the last day, as we delivered our verdicts, she directed all her questions to me, as the foreperson. I was extremely nervous and she asked me something that I didn’t quite understand. After giving me about 1 second to think, she inquired calmly and sympathetically, “Am I confusing you, Ms. Mircat?” (naturally she used my last name). I felt like saying, “No, my brain just doesn’t work as quickly as yours does, especially when I’m nervous!” :)



Filed under 2009

2 responses to “Jury duty update

  1. Mindy W.

    I am so excited that you had this opportunity and took it! One of my fellow law clerks complains that all of the “smart” people get off juries. (There was a recent case here in Idaho where the defendant was not convicted, and many lawyers cannot figure out why the jury came out the way it did in light of all the evidence.) So I am happy to hear that a smart girl like you took the opportunity to serve. It does not suprise me that you were the foreperson! ;)

    I would love to serve on a jury, but I am pretty sure that as a lawyer I will never have that opportunity. I did have an opportunity to practice being a lawyer in the courtroom for the first time this last weekend. I never practiced any trial work at school, so I signed up for a CLE (continuing education) class that was hands-on experience and real-time feedback. It was an incredible experience.

    Let’s just say that I think any involvement in trial, whether as a lawyer, the judge, or the jury, is a huge thing!

    • Ooo, thanks for the input, Mindy! This opportunity was AMAZING, frustrating, awesome, and scary….I am so grateful to the lawyers who selected an awesome group of jurors. It would have been awful had their selection process been any less conscientious.

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