Jury duty and fleas
March 30, 2012 § 6 Comments
It was an interesting week. It started on Monday with supporting a capital murder trial (the man was accused of killing two people, and injuring a bystander…not to mention that he’d previously served 8 years in prison for attempting to kill his ex-wife, and was an arsonist). I can’t imagine how someone can intentionally injure (let alone kill) a fellow human being, but I know it happens. Still, I know that our system holds a person innocent until proven guilty, and so the accused isn’t necessarily a killer until the jury evaluates the evidence against him and decides that he is.
Here where we live, Capital Murder can mean the death penalty, but this time the State was seeking lifetime imprisonment. I wonder what kind of life that means for the convicted? Neither choice is anything I’d willingly choose…death penalty or lifetime imprisonment. Both options are extreme, although likely justified when someone intentionally kills someone else. I wonder though, if punishments do much to deter crime.
My experience also caused me to reflect on the shortness of our lives, and how decisions that we make can impact the rest of our days. I wonder for instance, if the man who killed those two people might have made a different decision if he’d known that pulling the trigger would have resulted in a lifetime of imprisonment? I can’t imagine taking the life of another, but our prisons are full of people who may have thought the same thing. Although it’s not something I can imagine, murders happen every day, and they do sometimes occur in the community where I live.
In my community, even if you are not selected for a specific trial, you still must serve the entire week. So, after two days of intense questioning, in which I was not selected for the capital murder trial, I spent quite a lot of time just hanging around, waiting for someone to call me for some other trial. The majority of my time this week was spent sitting on the floor, in a hallway that teasingly overlooked a beautiful beach. The jury seats in the courtroom are considerably more comfortable than those in the jury congregation room, and they were particularly more comfortable than the floor of my 4th-floor hallway, (I wonder why the architects and designers didn’t think to install several rows of benches for the jurors?).
Our courthouse is on the beach, which is quite nice. However, the beautiful view out the courthouse windows didn’t make me excited for my “wonderful” week of standing in judgment of others. In the end, I am glad that I have chosen a career of science over being an attorney. It was my privilege to serve, but not my pleasure…and it wasn’t just those hard floors, which weren’t very comfortable at all. If I am ever accused of a crime (hopefully never), I’d like to think that the potential jurors who are assigned to sit in judgment of me will at least have a comfortable place to sit and contemplate my fate.
So, it was a strange and odd week. I battled fleas on dogs at home, and accused murderers away from home….such incongruity. It felt odd to come home at the end of each day, after spending eight hours pondering on whether someone shot another human being in the head, and talk with Dave about whether our dogs were scratching too much. It seemed irrelevant. Our dogs though, thought otherwise.