The Tough Job of a Juror……
Frankly, with all my years in the courtroom, I was taken aback by a news story from Gulfport, Mississippi, concerning a 31-year-old woman charged with contempt of court last Friday and ordered to serve two days in jail and fined $100.
According to The Sun Herald Newspaper, Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Dodson sentenced the woman after telling the Judge she didn’t realize she had fallen asleep during jury selection. She then compounded her problem by also telling the judge she didn’t realize it was a murder trial and didn’t return to court after lunch because she needed to meet two of her children as they got off a school bus.
Under questioning, the woman agreed she could have asked her mother to pick up her children if she had been asked to help.
Jury duty is a tremendous responsibility, no doubt about it. The job of a juror is tough.
Serving on a jury probably interferes and inconveniences most individuals called to serve on a jury; but most of all, jurors see serving as member of a jury as a weighty task that carries tremendous responsibilities.
I have been fortunate to work with countless jurors during my career in the courtroom. I have grown to respect and admire the men and women from all walks of life that come to the courtroom after receiving a notice informing them that they must report for jury duty. Most citizens do their duty and report as they should. Few have any real knowledge or understanding of what happens in the court room and yet they cooperate with judges and lawyers and do their best. Jurors are citizens, from all walks of life, who accept the responsibility of listening to evidence presented at trial and then deliberate their decision carefully and thoroughly. I know very well that this process can appear to be tedious and unending.
Yes, there is no doubt that I have heard many reasons from a lot of folks as to why they need to be excused from jury duty. Some reasons are stronger than others. I know that we all have family responsibilities that come with elderly parents or sick children. At times, jurors make tremendous personal sacrifices to serve on a jury for a long period of time, but they do it because they know that in this great country of ours, we have to take our place on the front lines when it is necessary.
So I take this opportunity to thank all the many jurors that over this past 36 years have served as members of juries who patiently listened to the evidence and found in their hearts the strength to deliver a verdict that regardless of whether it was difficult, painful or difficult was the right one for them at that time.
I am Martin E. Regan, Jr. and these are my personal thoughts.