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holySmith! goes to jury duty

Now that I can talk about it, one of the reasons for my recent lack of posts is (was) jury duty. I was part of what was, from what I understand, one of the largest groups ever called for jury duty (there were more than 750 people there Monday morning). There was a Disney World-esque line out the door, down the block, and doubled-back down the block again when I got there.

After a long day of waiting, a group of us were sent up to one of the courtrooms with a bailiff. The selection process was interesting and I ultimately wound up being the third juror called for the pending case.

A man was on trial for armed robbery of a car, possession of drugs, armed robbery of a store, and theft of a car. We ultimately found him guilty of everything but the drug possession, which was simply due to the prosecution’s lack of evidence.

The process was interesting and fascinating. Juries in Arizona have the option to ask the witness additional questions after the prosecution and defense. Jurors submit the questions and if the prosecution and defense agree, the judge reads the question to the witness and the witness directs his or her answer to the jury panel.

Deliberation was the most significant part of the process, and the most interesting because a group of 12 strangers have to sort through all the junk and arrive at a decision that everyone agrees is the right thing to do. The single most fascinating thing was that we, as a group, worked together so intelligently, so efficiently, and with so much determination to do the right thing based on the evidence, that it helped to restore some of my faith in my fellow Americans.

It was truly one of those moments where a diverse group of people sets aside their personal feelings and crap like that and puts their brains together to solve a problem. We did that and we did it without having to come back for an extra day of deliberation. We even made it a point to address each and every concern or doubt raised by any one of the group who didn’t absolutely agree with the rest of the group.

That left me with a good feeling, like perhaps we, the people, might actually be able to elect a somewhat decent president next time we get to do so. Jury duty, despite the inconveniences, helped to restore some faith in humanity, cheesy as it sounds.

I am in no hurry to go back, but if called, I would do it again (please don’t tell that to Maricopa County)!

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