My 3 Hours In Court

Yesterday I spent 3 hours between 1 and 4 pm learning firsthand about our judicial system. It felt more like being back in Civics class than being on jury duty with one gentleman lecturing to us about the importance of this civic service than showing us a video on the subject hosted by Charles Kuralt. I was one of about 30 other people who had been randomly selected for jury service by Henderson County.

The soft-spoken gentleman explained to us that we were at this point considered “potential jurors” and that from our lot 13 people would be picked for the upcoming assault felony case — 12 jurors and an alternate.

As it turned out I was selected to sit in chair #11. My name being one selected at random from a small plastic tub that housed the 30 names. I figured at that point that my day in court was about to be extended to 2 days since they had indicated that the actual trial would take place on Friday. But the process wasn’t quite over.

The Assistant District Attorney, a young and attractive professionals, next asked us a series of questions in an effort to determine if we had any possible conflicts of interests — questions like, did we know the defendant, the plaintiff or any of the witnesses, had we ever been involved in a similar type crime, or had any of our loved ones. We were also invited to introduce ourselves and share a little bit of our background.

When my turn came I said, “I’ve lived in Flat Rock for 11 years where my wife and I run our own company, Life On Purpose Institute, where I’m a life coach, speaker and writer. (After all, who knows? Maybe there was someone in the courtroom who was in need of a coach, maybe the defendant? ) My wife and I have been married 15 years as of tomorrow,” to which the DA said, “Congratulations.”

After about 30 minutes of questioning, it felt to me that the original 12 was going to cut the mustard and the rest of the potential jurors could go home, but that’s when the Assistant DA threw me a curve, by telling us that I and one other gentleman were dismissed, a option we had been told that she had but I hadn’t thought she was going to take based on our answers.

Now, I could figure out why the other guy had been asked to leave. He’d said he’d had a relative who had been in a similar type case a few years before and he’d felt that the guy had been treated unfairly, but I’m still left to this day wondering why I’d been sent home. I remembered as I picked up my brief case and walked out, that our first “teacher” had said to not take it personally, though I did feel myself going there at first.

I’m left to speculate and have come up with two possible reasons: One, perhaps the DA is a romantic at heart and didn’t want to take me away from my wife and family on my wedding anniversary, or two, hearing that I was a life coach, she grouped me in with therapists and counselors, and thought I might be more lenient with the defendant and more persuasive with turning others from a plea of guilty.

In either case, the way I figure it, I learned a lot in my 3 hours including that each “potential juror” is paid a grand total of $12, so I came close to making minimum wage for my time; all in all, a positive and purposeful experience.