Nov 22, 2013


I've been serving jury duty this week.  That doesn't mean a whole lot to you, I'm sure, but for some reason, the experience has really got my pea-sized brain working overtime.  If you'll indulge's what's been rattling around in there:

(Try to resist the urge to upchuck...I promise you that the following paragraphs are overwrought and ridiculous...but sometimes a spinster just needs to orate.)

(Know what I mean?)

Jury duty is hard.  It's inconvenient and unpredictable and an intrusion into our normal lives.  The tedium of waiting can be very frustrating, especially when we don't know or understand what we're waiting for.  We grumble about finding downtown parking spaces, having to figure out where to go for lunch, and the "intimacy" of the restrooms in the jury room, but somehow we press on. 

And then it's time to deliberate, and a group of perfect strangers come together in a thoughtful, conscientious, and profound way to examine and consider evidence, argue the meaning of a concept or instruction, and finally render a verdict that will change a life. 

We're bombarded with news accounts and analysis of what's wrong with our country, and there are days when I'm certain that nine out of ten people think that the cause is lost and there's nothing that we as ordinary citizens can do to reverse the course, plot a new one, stick to the plan we prefer, or just scratch the whole thing and move to Canada.

But then we serve jury duty, and we're reminded of everything that is good about our home.  We treat people with respect and honor their dignity.  We give them the benefit of the doubt and weigh things carefully before rushing to judgment, and we look out for one another with the hope that eventually we'll get it right and achieve a society that will allow our children and grandchildren to live happily ever after.

The final lesson that I learned from jury duty was the importance of trust.  We come into this experience needing to trust the judicial system, the players in it, the process, and then finally ourselves.  This last one is the hardest, because we know that we might render the right verdict, but that it might have the wrong outcome.  We know that for our system to work, we have to trust the rules and the instructions and the concepts -- even if they are in direct opposition to that which we know to be true in our deepest heart.

I'm profoundly grateful that I had this opportunity, and I hope that I'll have the chance to tell a fellow citizen to think about the things I've mentioned here if they too are called to serve.  How thankful I am that the fathers of our country had the brilliance to give me this duty...this right...and this gift.
(She climbs down from the soapbox.)

So there you have it -- what I'm contemplating as I poke the needle tonight.  I hope that wherever you are is exactly where you want to be and that your needles are flying!

Woo Hoo!
(and Stewey, too..only the part about wishing you happy times...not about the jury duty stuff)
(He keeps rolling his eyes at me as I ha-rumph around the house humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic)
(damn dog)


  1. I love this post. It gives me hope, and hope is always a good thing. Of course, I didn't feel like it was a good thing when I was on jury standby and had to call in each and every night to see if I had to show up the next day and possibly miss my class with Jane Nicholas, but there you go. :)

  2. These are neither overwrought nor ridiculous...they're very well said! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me that people all around me get called for jury duty, some multiple times, and I've never been called once in my 61 years (62 in less than a week; of course, my first 18 years don't count) on this earth, even though I lived in the same house for close to 30 years. I must have something on my permanent record card, like, "DON'T CALL THIS WEIRDO." Thank you for doing your duty.

  4. I've never heard of jury duty spoken about that way. Thank you!

  5. Coni, Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I am always annoyed when people who do not need to try to avoid jury duty. I feel so fortunate to have been born in a country where I am presumed innocent. Much of the world is not so lucky.

  6. Thank you for serving and for your thoughts. I have served once and even though it is a pain and takes you out of your comfort zone, I still felt good after we gave our final say.

  7. I served on a jury--slip and fall. After listening for six days, the case settled out of court. Hmmm

  8. I paused for reflection the time I was called for jury duty too. It's quite a process, and I made a friend for life there at the courthouse. It does make one proud to be an American...

  9. In the last 9 years I have been called for jury duty 4 times but then to be dismissed (as a group...not just me!). I suspect that one of these times I will be involved in a case.

  10. Thank you, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles. Every trial, many, many people try to get off the jury. I understand it is a terrible disruption for many people. And, it is enormously inconvenient, the incessant waiting, the difficult traffic and parking, the uncomfortable seating and in most of our large courthouses, the unreliable elevators. In spite of that, I can say that in every (yes, every) case I have ever tried the right result was reached, whether I won or not, because good people took the time to listen to the evidence, weigh it carefully and come to a just decision. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we are allowed to participate in our government in such a meaningful way. So few people who live on this earth get to have a say in their own justice systems. I will excuse any juror who is desperate to get out of jury duty because I am certain that he or she would be too preoccupied to listen carefully. But, I am grateful to every juror who has served on one of my trials and I know that the victims of those crimes are equally grateful. I hope that your comments might have persuaded at least one reluctant juror to stay for the case. By the way, in my county, deputy district attorneys do not automatically get excused from jury service. I am expected to report every time I am summoned and I am eligible to serve on civil cases. The best part is that there is lots of downtime to stitch! Next topic: How lucky we are to be able to pay taxes :)

  11. Very well said! I'm one of those people who grumble and groan about The State of the World. But really, everyday people do treat each other with a lot of respect and trust. I guess if that fact made the new more often we'd remember it. :)

  12. Thank you, Connie, for a thoughtful post. The value of cooperation and compromise that appears in the jury room is what America is all about. It is not about self aggrandizement and greed. Your viewpoint reminds me of all we have to be grateful for even as warring factions try to sway us to despair so that they can advance their own cause. May you and yours have a serene Thanksgiving!

  13. Jury duty is such an important task. I am glad you had the opportunity. I was a freelance court reporter (although I don't do it as much now, I miss it)...I have been called to jury duty several times, never selected...

    Happy Thanksgiving, Coni!!

    Sherry :o)