Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Power Of 12

I sat on a jury the other day.

It was one of the most interesting and nerve wracking experiences of my life.

In my line of work, I've attended several court trials. I've watched prosecutors and defense attorneys make their arguments and I've often decided in my mind whether someone was guilty or not guilty. But, it was always from the other side of the jury box. Stepping inside that box, becoming one of 12 people charged with dispensing "justice" is a totally different experience.

It's pretty damn scary.

When I went into jury service I wasn't thrilled about the drudgery of the ordeal, but I was excited about the possibility of helping dispense "justice." Notice how I keep putting that word in quotation marks? There is a reason.

In my mind, jury service would be the perfect time to use my superior intellect (insert sarcasm) to convince people of the proper decision to make to keep the world on its proper course. Using my vaunted logic and only slightly biased objectivity, I was certain I would be in the vanguard of protecting this country's legal ideals.

Until I got selected to be a juror in a rape case.

There is no crime like rape. It's no coincidence that rape convictions can carry death sentences, just like murder convictions in some states. Outside of child molestation, no other crime carries the stigma that rape carries, yet rape trials often are very difficult to prosecute. That's especially true when the rape trial is a consent rape case, instead of a forcible rape involving a stranger.

I was asked to decide a consent rape case.

I won't discuss the details of the case because I think that would be an issue. But, the case showed me that the responsibility of being a juror, at least the way it is outlined by prosecutors and defense attorneys, is awesome. I truly found it difficult to come to a firm conclusion on the "facts" of the incident. I struggled with the possibility of freeing a rapist or sending an innocent man to jail. I struggled with watching a woman shed tears relating what she clearly considered one of the worst experiences of her life, and being asked to determine if I believed her account.

I can honestly say that I never, ever, want to do it again.

I don't know if I'll be excused from jury duty the next time I'm called, but I hope I am. I hope I never have to sit in that box and try to determine who deserves freedom or punishment.

I never want that power again.




Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

Raving Black Lunatic