Serving on jury is a privilege
Published 4:55 pm Monday, May 7, 2007
I'm jealous, but in a good way. Not the kind of jealous that would cause me to grieve over what others have been able to do, but the kind of jealous that makes me wish I could experience what they have experienced.
I had the opportunity this past week to witness the actions of students and lawyers in a real case in the Escambia County Court. The Law Day observance, held each year, allows seniors from schools in Escambia County to experience and witness a jury trial case in a way they may never experience again.
During opening remarks concerning the case heard on Friday, Judge Brad Byrne explained to those seniors from T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal High Schools that serving as a juror is a privilege and a duty for all who are called to serve.
Byrne told the group that they might someday return to the courtroom as litigants in a case or possibly as lawyers and judges. He also said some of them may return to the courtroom as defendants. All of those situations are possible, but the most important return to the courtroom may be that of a juror.
Fourteen high school seniors were selected to serve on the jury during trials held on Thursday and Friday last week. There are now 28 high school students who have had a privilege that I have never enjoyed.
I have covered several cases as part of my job as a reporter for this newspaper. I have listened to testimony for the prosecution and defense in those cases and have come up with a verdict on my own. In a few of those cases, my opinion has been in line with that of the jury. In one or two of those cases, we saw things differently. Determining the future of a man or woman who has been accused of a crime is something I'd love to get in on.
In one of the cases last week, the students heard about a man who was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. In this case, I came to the same conclusion as the jury. I guess great minds think alike. As a matter of fact, in the second case heard by a different group of high school seniors, I agreed again with the jury.
I will admit that both cases were pretty obvious. But for some reason, I'm itching to sit in the jury box and make my decision on a case. I don't really care what the case is, but I sure would like to give it a try. I think I might even be able to convince other jurors to come over to my way of thinking if they should happen to disagree with my opinion.
I probably won't ever get the chance to sit on a jury. Not that I'm a bad person and no lawyer in his right mind would have me sit on a case they are prosecuting or defending. I think I'm fairly intelligent and have a good sense and respect for the law.
The reason I don't think that I'll be ever on a jury is because of my job. I'm a reporter and I chase stories of all kinds. You've probably already noticed a story about a couple of folks who got arrested this week. I was in on one of those stories from the beginning. The fact that I know how everything happened on the day of the arrest of one of those people would probably have some bearing on my being chosen for the jury. Personally, I already have an opinion on whether this person is guilty or innocent, and they haven't chosen a lawyer to defend them.
Judge David Jordan spoke to the entire group of seniors last week and explained to them how important serving on a jury can be. He explained that serving on a jury gives a common citizen the opportunity to see that the law is carried out and that justice is served in many, many cases.
So, you can bet I'm jealous. The sad fact is that I will be jealous of those 28 high school seniors, and countless others who have been called for jury duty, for years to come.
Lisa Tindell is a news writer for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at email@example.com.