Today is I Love to Write Day. It was founded 10 years ago by John Riddle to encourage people of all levels and interests to do a little bit of writing. So what does yet another “Day” have to do with Jury Duty. Everything! Today we are posting an article from a first timer, Margaret Richards. Of course, it’s not the first time she has written anything. She’s a home school mom, ministry leader in her church, and story teller extraordinaire. There’s just a tad bit of writing that goes along with those titles. But she has not shared anything online…until now.You may recognize Margaret’s name. She provides original photos for the A,B,Cs of Loving One Another Series. Her photography and that of her professional photographer husband, Lonnie, can be viewed here.
We are so honored to share her first online article with you today.
I Am Alternate Juror Number Six By Margaret Richards
I am waiting… and waiting… and waiting.
I arrive in plenty of time. I set off the metal detector twice–once for my belt (I guess it does have metal holes all the way around it!) and once for my necklace (It’s from the Dollar Store. The beads are plastic. Wasn’t expecting that one!) I sign in and receive my $10. I take a seat in one of the back rows in the courtroom with other fine upstanding citizens of Medina County. Bailiff Bill arranges us in our computer-generated random order. Eight people are placed in the seats of the jury box. We watch the video that explains the legal system. And now, here I am in the front row of the audience, alternate juror number six, awaiting voir dire. In French that’s “to see, to talk.” It’s where the lawyers decide whether or not I will benefit their client as a Caucasian, brunette, green-eyed, tee-totaling female who attends a Baptist church three times a week, has been married for thirty-five years to the same man, and is the mother of six children. So, I am waiting… and waiting… and waiting.
It’s interesting the thoughts that go through my head while I sit with twenty-three strangers; waiting… and waiting.
“Why is the light in that section of recessed ceiling is yellow? The other fifteen are white.”
“The long horizontal planks along the front of the courtroom contrast interestingly with the brick on the walls.”
“Where is the witness stand?”
I contemplate the video and think about jury duty. I mean jury service!
With most of us, what’s our first thought when that envelope comes in the mail from the Court System? “Oh, no!” And we try to find a way to get out of serving. But I think about the privilege that we have to be judged by a jury of our peers instead of an evil dictator. “Off with their heads!” I’d like to think that if I were on trial, those peers wouldn’t be just the ones who didn’t want to be there but couldn’t get out of it.
After much waiting, we find out that of the three possible cases for the day, only one was coming to court. And the judge, attorney, and defendant worked out a plea ahead of time to save the man the time and expense of a jury trial. So that’s why were waiting. We do finally get to see the actual plea. Bailiff Bill, calls, “All rise!” and we stand as Judge Chase comes into the courtroom. They discuss the situation and the possible pleas and get it all straightened out.
My time as alternate juror number six is over. I am never questioned by the lawyer. I am never sworn in. I never sit in a jury seat. But I get to see a bit of the American legal system at work. It’s the best in the world…except for that of the God of the Universe.
With perfect understanding of every situation, He judges rightly. I’m thankful that though His justice demands payment for my every sin, His love provides a sacrifice to take the punishment for that sin… Jesus.
All in all, it is a good day.