This week I was summoned for jury duty & was selected as a juror. I was unable to discuss anything involving the case until the trial was over and the jury was dismissed this evening. I will post each day of my experience separately.
Day 1: The Selection Process
It is always a little nerve racking when you receive a jury summons in the mail. This has happened to me several times since turning 18 but I have never been selected to be a juror. Finding parking and making sure that you are able to have time to go back down to your car if you need to add extra time is always stressful in downtown Austin. Luckily, there is an app, Park X, that allows you to enter your vehicle information and pay through the app. It warns you when time is running low and you are able to add money and extend your parking time over the phone. Each area in Austin is zoned, so I think this app will also be helpful for parking in the future. The day is long with minimal break time and seating which is less than ideal (similiar to church pews). Both the State and the Defense teams ask many questions some of which are answered as a group and others are addressed at specific jurors.
I was amazed at some of the comments made during jury selection as to whether someone could be impartial if a defendant invoked their 5th amendment right and the lack of knowledge as to burden of proof, and beyond a reasonable doubt. I was left wondering how some of these potential jurors might feel if they were seated in the chair of the defendant. I have heard of many defense attorneys who strongly discourage their clients to not to testify on their own behalf.
At the end of the day, I was the first name called as a selected juror. Although I was nervous, I felt privileged to be able to serve and experience being a juror of a criminal case. I am very interested in criminal justice both from the victim advocate side as well as ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial.
I listen to several podcasts regularly that center on defendants that were wrongfully convicted and victim advocacy (Serial, Undisclosed, Truth & Justice, and Real Crime Profile). I feel privileged to be apart of something so few Americans are able to participate in along with a strong sense of duty to be the best juror I can be.
We were sworn in, given two pages of instructions, and told that we were not allowed to talk with anyone about the case until the trial was over and we were discharged as jurors. The trial is expected to last a week. A few juror perks…you get a juror parking pass (woohoo!), your surroundings are comfortable, and breaks are frequent. For those of you who are teachers out there, you will especially appreciate that we got an hour and a half for lunch!
I want to thank Rabia Chaudry, Collin Miller, Susan Simpson, Bob Ruff, Laura Richards, Jim Clemente, and Lisa Zembetti for all of the knowledge I bring with me as I sit this week as a juror.