Jury Duty

So it turns out that doing Jury Duty leaves you with a bit of thinking to do afterwards.

For those who don't know I spent last week sitting on a jury that was dealing with a particularly not nice case. I won't go into details about which case, a) I'm not actually sure how much I am allowed to say and b) in a way, it's not really that important. Suffice to say, it wasn't a minor case and it dealt with areas that were very uncomfortable making.

First off I have to say I was massively impressed with the court staff. They were helpful, friendly and most important, understanding of the sort of pressures twelve people from very diverse backgrounds found themselves under.

Secondly, I probably couldn't have asked for a better group of people to be empanelled with. Each of us approached the case with what I could say is a "professional" outlook. We were very concious of the responsibility we bore and the possible consequences of our decision, whichever way it went.

Trying to look at the experience dispassionately, it was interesting. Turned up on Monday with about fifty other people, we were shown a video about jury duty and assigned a jury number. Then we all filed into the court for the jury selection process. This consists of the Judges assistant pulling 12 numbers from a box at random.

Once the jurors box is full the Defence and Prosecution teams get to challenge jurors they feel may not be the sort of person they want on the jury.

I was drawn early in the piece and  "survived" the challenge process which meant that I was now committed to however long the trial was going to take.

The next four days was a mix of boredom (procedural faffing looks exciting on TV, but tends to lead to yawns in real life), avid interest as evidence was presented and finally apprehension as we were directed to retire to consider our verdict. 

At the end of it, we delivered our verdict and being thanked by the Judge, were dismissed to rejoin the real world.

Except of course you can't just leave this sort of thing in the court house. For the last couple of days I've been swinging through a whole variety of emotions, ranging from relief that the experience was over through frustration, sadness, anger and pride that I was able to approach things dispassionately and with an eye to evidence over feeling.

Tomorrow I return to the real world, I'll be on the train at 6:42am and won't get back home until 6:50pm. In between then I'll be working with my colleagues, solving problems, writing code and generally getting back on track. However I think it's going to be a while before jury duty really fades from my mind.

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Thanks for sharing your experience and thank you for doing your duty. There are very few obligations required of citizens, jury duty being one of them. Jury trials are always very serious matters and no amount of TV can prepare you for it.

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