The dreaded jury duty.

This is not meant to be a rant or a criticism of anyone who has tried to exclude themselves from jury duty.  I can’t count the number of times James and I have been asked the best way to avoid the impending obligation.   Quite frankly, I always thought that crime happened to other people – certainly not us.  Before Stefanie’s case I was unconcerned with how vital conscientious jurors were for the victims.   Intellectually I knew jury members were crucial, but somehow it didn’t hit home enough to make an impact morally.

I completely understood the personal, professional and financial sacrifices of jury members and because of that we chose to sit in the court room during this process.  I wanted the pool members to see that we were real people with a real need and to consider how much their sacrifices would mean to us. We were relinquishing control of a decision we thought should be ours into the hands of strangers. We needed them to care.

At that point in my life, nothing else mattered.  It was crucial that the two who killed our daughter be put away.  We needed that peace of mind.

I was dumbfounded, disheartened and angry at the extent to which some people attempted to avoid sitting on the jury.  I took it as a personal affront to both us and Stefanie which was highly irrational but nonetheless my distorted reality.  Despite our concerns, and with the encouragement of the Crown Attorney, we remained cautiously optimistic that the right people would be chosen – which of course turned out to be true.

James, Ian and I would be professional jurors now  –  voluntarily (I might even pay for the chance).

We’ve learned the hard way that any one of us might need the patience, tenacity, and wisdom of a jury.  It is vital that as a society we take this responsibility seriously.

Thanks to all those who have served on a jury or who may be called on in the future.

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4 Responses to The dreaded jury duty.

  1. I couldn’t believe it when I got a jury duty notice not long after Jason’s death. I did ask to be excused; I just didn’t think I could handle it right then. I’ve received notice several other times, but have never actually had to serve. It is certainly a vital part of our legal system!

  2. Heather says:

    I was called for jury duty in July 2010. The word, “cancer” hadn’t made its way through my skull yet, but I knew my husband was in trouble, which meant the kids would be, too. I wrote to the coordinator and explained the situation and they wrote back, letting me off the hook for a two-year period. I admit I was relieved, having been at the Bernado trial for a few days as a student and seeing how disturbed the reporters and other “regulars” there were becoming.

    But your post has made me re-think my relief … I really hadn’t thought about the “duty” aspect, and how my participation could be helpful to you and other victims and victimized families. Funny how people like me wish there was a way we could “help” you, but never consider that jury duty might be one of the best ways to do it.

    So thanks for showing me how much it matters, Patricia. Next time I’m called, I’ll go willingly.

    • There were, of course, many very legitimate reasons why members of the jury pool weren’t able to sit for jury duty at that particular time – yours is a perfect example – and those we understood completely.

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