Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

Seeking Justice: My Time on Jury Duty

Seeking Justice In the United States, a person is presumed innocent, until the State can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person, charged with a crime, is guilty. I got to see the wheels of justice turn, first-hand, during the last week in April, while serving on  jury duty. A husband/father was accused of assaulting his wife and daughter; hence two counts of assault.

The trial was fascinating, especially the jury selection part of the trial. I thought, for sure, I would be dismissed for two reasons:

  1. I have many years of training, as an auditor, where my job was to ascertain whether someone was telling the truth. Whichever side was planning to present sketchy information, I would surely figure it out.
  2. I have a Masters in Theology, and I teach morality. If I’ve learned anything over the past six years of study, it is that you do not draw a black or white, yes or no conclusion of a moral act, without considering intent and circumstances.

For these reasons, I felt certain that either the Prosecution or the Defense would dismiss me. But no, I became Juror #9.

The trial took less than a full day to present. The Jury was released to deliberate at about 4 p.m. that afternoon. We discussed the case for an hour and took some votes. We were not unanimous. So, the Judge sent us home for the evening. That was a good decision. It gave each of us the opportunity to mentally sift through the presentation of the facts, and sift out the emotion of the case.

We resumed deliberations in the morning, needing only an additional hour to arrive at a unanimous decision on both counts. Remember those two reasons why I mentioned that I should be dismissed from the Jury? Well, those two reasons became important elements in arriving at a unanimous decision.

The Jury Seeks Justice

As we resumed deliberation in the morning, I spoke to the facts of the discrepancies of the testimonies given by the mother and daughter. That’s where my training as an auditor helped us all. Their stories did not jive, and being that they were both prosecution witnesses, they should be telling a consistent story. Their accounts contradicted each other at critical points. This swayed some of the Jurors to a vote of “Not Guilty.” Yet, there were still some hold-outs. The discussion continued.

Then we discussed intent. Again, I went to the facts, and asked the other Jurors if they had heard any testimony as to who took the first aggressive stance. This was an important question, as it gets to the definition of assault as specified by the court. Was it the husband or the wife? No one could answer that question. In the end, what the case came down to was a he said, she said situation. We had insufficient evidence to convict the husband/father of assault; thereby acquitting him on both counts.

A Juror’s Lessons Learned

What did I learn from this experience? I learned that the very reasons for why I thought I should not be on a jury, were the very reasons why God placed me on this jury. He worked through me, using the gifts He gave me, to set things right. I am at peace with the decision that we made as a jury. Together, we applied prudence and discernment in seeking justice. We ascertained the truth to the best of our abilities. And, I for one, can say that I sought the Holy Spirit’s Counsel throughout the entire process.

Now that all is said and done, I can say that I found serving on a jury trial to be a good experience. The judicial process, within the United States, is not perfect, but it does its best to seek justice, even if justice means “Not Guilty.”

This post was shared with Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You.

8 Responses to Seeking Justice: My Time on Jury Duty

  • I loved my juror experience. I knew I would be selected because I am an auditor. I could see both the prosecutor and defense attorneys light up. Our case was only a day too. It was interesting to see how the system works and how I don’t want to ruin someone’s life if there isn’t some clear cut evidence. We have no evidence, it was a he said/she said case. None of us could vote quilty without some evidence. When the verdict was read the prosecutor actually threw stuff on the table in anger. My thought was why did you waste everyone’s time and taxpayer money if you had no physical evidence to show us. All the jurors agreed the gal was guilty of some things, but that isn’t what they were charging her with. Extremely fascinating and would love to do it again.

    • I feel the same way! I too would love to do it again! Thanks for sharing Mary! If you ever want to guest post on my website about your adventures on the train, especially about those incidences that lack virtue, just let me know. My followers would LOVE you!

  • Wow!

    This is a very interesting story. I’ll have to come back and read your other articles. Have a blessed day!

  • Wonderful article. I appreciated knowing the reasons for the not guilty verdict. It gave me hope for a situation I know about and pray about daily. I hope someone helps this family figure out what is true, not true and how to fix it… Thanks so much for the hope.

  • Thanks for reminding me I have to fill out a jury questionnaire. I’m 70 so I could beg off, but I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury. The only other time I was called I had a nursing baby.

    • Hi Mary Ann: It is an interesting process, and an honor to participate on a jury. If we keep in mind that we are only judging the act, based upon the facts presented, and not judging the person, we are fulfilling our civic duty. – Peace, Virginia

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