Jury Duty Takes Its Toll

I’ve been on jury duty all week this week. The experience has been a fascinating glimpse for me into the inner workings of the criminal judicial system, as well as a fascinating glimpse into my own psychological and emotional limits. The trial isn’t over yet, so I cannot say anything about that; however, I can talk about my personal experiences.

This is my first time on a jury - or even called up for jury duty. I take such a civic duty quite seriously. Though serving on a jury is second only to voting in importance for securing trust and transparency in our particular civilization, it easily surpasses voting in the impact it on the lives of other people. The responsibility is enormous, even greater than I imagined. Sitting in judgment of another person, with life and liberty at stake, is weighty indeed.

The case has continued on a couple of days longer than the judge expected. From my first night home after a day at the courthouse, despite no more than an hour actually in the courtroom, I was simply overwhelmed. There was so much in my heart and mind, and I simply couldn’t get it out. Our instructions from the bench are to speak with nobody about the case, including spouses. Cut off from Hedda’s amazing ability to listen, I quickly devolved into a near-depression. Except for a short interlude of wine and beer on Tuesday evening, my week has basically been:

  1. Wake up;
  2. Go to courthouse;
  3. Come home and eat;
  4. Sleep.

This reaction surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to be so affected. I didn’t realize how greatly I needed to talk to somebody - anybody! - about these life-changing judgments placed (partially) upon my shoulders.

Today I’m feeling better than I have all week, though. We started deliberations this afternoon, and with deliberations is lifted the restriction on speaking to my fellow jurors. Upon finally speaking with them, I felt a great tension drain from me, as the reservoir of thoughts and emotions pent up inside me finally had somewhere to go.

I’m looking forward to finishing our deliberations - hopefully tomorrow!