I just finished Jury Service last week and I must say that sitting in there can be quite boring, so naturally my mind went to focus on the observations that can be found in a Court of Law, as well as some doodling…
- Life isn’t what you see on T.V. – This is the first and foremost observation, I’ve realized while sitting in Jury Duty. T.V. is an exaggeration out of a pure desire for ratings, there are no surprize witnesses, nor will there be a piece of evidence that causes the Jury panel to gasp in shock, nor will the Councillors yell and argue and raise their voice so that everyone can hear them. (although that last part almost happened, which made it almost interesting). You’re taught to retain your composure, and keep calm in all professional situations. Otherwise, you’ll lose the respect of people around you, and in a court of law, your responses will be met with disapproval.
- Certainty above all things.– When the Defendant was up, as well as other witnesses, both Councillors asked them questions, and only the witnesses that responded with confidence were ‘marked’, if not observed, as speaking the truth. This is true due to the idea that their statements were solid nor were there any mix ups and they even were able to throw in a small joke here and there to ensure their confidence in their answers. To take from this, “Fake it until you make it” seems most appropriate, If you look like you know what you’re doing, then people will often believe that you do.
- Respect authority. – During the Trial, the Councillors had to ask permission from the Judge to approach the Witness for anything, but when they didn’t, the Judge reminded them with a rather stern voice, “Councillor, you did not ask to approach the witness.” To which, the Councillor would apologize for. However, when they asked at the appropriate time, the Judge would reply “Yes you may, and you need not ask for permission in the future for this witness.” Things can slip from one’s mind during any situation, and that’s natural, even forgivable, except when it comes to asking for permission. Yet those in authority will not hesitate to put you in your place, but when you keep yourself in check, not only do you get what you’ve desired, but there’s always a possibility for an additional reward simply because you’ve decided to exert courtesy over impulse.
- Learn from the people you interact with, regardless of how brief. – After the Trial, the Bailiff asked if anyone wanted to stay so that the Councillors can talk to them about the case. I, along with 2 other people, whom I’ve befriended, decided to stay, and we spoke with the 2 Councillors and learned a lot about their perspectives, strategies, and discussed briefly on what we thought they should do for the next case, to help them out. I was quite amazed to see both of them do this, as I have not done this before. The Defense Council directly asked us what we thought he should do, in hopes of finding out where in his strategy he can fix, and he was really professional about it. He lost, but he took that loss as an opportunity to learn.
- Focus on the Task at Hand. – This is meant for us in our deliberations. I thought it was a clear-cut case, as in terms of what we were supposed to find whether or not the Defendant was guilty in specific terms, yet, during the deliberations, 2 jurors disagreed, with the rest of us. Their stance on uncertainty was unfounded as they thought outside what they were supposed to. Placing speculations upon their reasoning caused us to deliberate for a total of 1.5 days. To this day, I still don’t know why they thought that way because their reasoning for not reaching a verdict was because of stuff that was outside the instructions. They starting saying, “Well, maybe this or that…” etc, and it was somewhat frustrating because we tried explaining to them that they were speculating, which is something they’re not allowed to do! Heh, suffice to say, that it irked a couple of us, although we kept each other in check. In the end, those 2 were the first ones out of the room.
- Make friends, it’ll make the experience a LOT easier. – placing 12 random people in a room together can get quite uncomfortable, yet by sharing a common experience, or burden in this case, they can find common ground and can even make friends, depending on their open mindedness, or willing to do so. Initially, I kept to myself, then I had lunch with someone from the panel, and then 2 more, and at the last day, 10 of us were eating Pizza together. We were laughing, telling jokes and comfortable with one another. I eventually exchanged numbers with 2 of them thinking that we should hang out and have a mini “Juror reunion”. But the point of it is that, Jury service would seem a LOT longer, a lot more aggravating and a lot more boring, if I hadn’t eaten lunch with them. By the system picking people at random, you can see different backgrounds, different perspectives on life, and even different sides to people that you’d never thought possible. And who knows, perhaps you can meet that special someone on a Jury panel.
Well, that’s about all I can remember, oh, and try not to get caught! But all joking aside, this is an example of how one can try to learn something from an experience that many people deem a “waste of time”. One thing that the Judge said that I won’t forget, “People hate Jury Service and Lawyers, until they need them.”