On Monday morning, I had the privilege of reporting to jury duty at 7:45 a.m. It was a minor shock to my system having to get up early enough to leave for the downtown court at 6:30 a.m. I have fulfilled my civic duty several times before, including twice sitting as a juror on criminal trials. With all my 30 plus years working in Arizona law offices, I am probably the most unlikely juror, but I have concluded after being selected twice, that I must have the “perfect juror” face that both sides of a case want.
So, Sunday night I headed straight to bed. I enlisted my husband’s help waking up in the wee hours of the morning in time to join the morning commute. Before hitting the road safely, several things were necessary, due to my CNS lupus involvement. First, a couple of cups of coffee, medications, a shower, and some breakfast, all early enough to make sure I could “connect the dots” between my brain and my reflexes. All was well, so I had green light to head out to drive to the court safely.
Jury duty is an important piece of our American judicial system, and I am very willing to do my part. After thirty years as part of the Arizona legal community, there is a high likelihood that I might know the attorneys or have some familiarity with they type of case being tried. I always hope that reasonable people (like me?) would sit on a jury if the tables were ever turned, and if I were ever accused of a crime. I would hope the people in the jury box weighing facts and the law would take it all very seriously, realizing that a real person’s life, reputation, livelihood and family life may be preserved or crushed by their decision. Such a fate should belong only to the guilty, and Jury duty should remain a sobering, albeit enlightening experience.
Twice, I have been part of a jury that found someone else guilty of their crimes, and those defendants both went to prison. My prayers going into jury duty were for good health, the desire for a day without lupus pain, and clarity of mind to serve well as a juror should I be selected. Those of us with chronic illnesses and disabilities like lupus are entitled to an opportunity to take part in this important civil responsibility.
When the judge in a previous jury duty stint found out that I had arthritis from my lupus, he made every effort to make sure that the entire jury had frequent enough breaks during the trial to help accommodate my lupus-related needs. He periodically asked me if I was still comfortable, if I needed a break, of if I needed to get up and walk around for a few minutes. I don’t think the rest of the jury minded this one bit, as it helped break up the tedium of our 4 day trial a little when we were given chances to leave the court room and stretch.
This time, after half the day of watching a descending list of pending trials “go away” (a not so technical legal term) I was not selected for a trial, and the remaining jurors were released just before noon hour. So much for the jury duty adventure, this time. I made my way back to my end of town, to catch some lunch and then head out for a afternoon’s half-day of work at my office.