I mentioned it some, but in case you missed it: I served as a juror for six days earlier this month.
I got a card in the mail in September with my summons. I’ve been summoned before — only once though, when I lived in Louisiana.
At that time, I was supposed to call every morning and see if I should report to the court. I never had to go in.
Other than that, I’ve never had anything to do with jury duty.
When I was summoned this time, there was a website on the card where I could fill out a form, put in any scheduling conflicts I had, and get COVID-related information.
I did all of that by the deadline, and then received a confirmation email that I should arrive at the court for jury selection on a Tuesday morning.
The Jury Selection Experience
Obviously, I’ve never gone through jury selection and I assumed it would be like it is in the movies or on TV.
But it was very different.
The courthouse is downtown (about 20 minutes from my apartment), but I was worried about traffic and parking, so I got there around 7:15am.
When I checked in, I was assigned a number and told to sit wherever my numbered paddle was.
Later, the judge told us that the lower your number is, the more likely you are to be selected for the jury. My number was close to the middle of the bunch.
When selection started, the three attorneys on the case asked the group questions. These questions were related to the case, to see if anyone would have any bias on what the case was covering.
The attorney would ask a question and if it pertained to you, you’d raise your paddle. Then, the attorney would ask each and every person that raised a paddle about their issue with the question.
The case dealt with family law, including a custody battle. So, a lot of the questions were about divorce, custody, relationships with family members, and things family members say to each other.
As you can tell, these were personal questions and lots of potential jurors had stories to tell and some even got emotional.
Just to note, there was an option to speak to the attorneys and the judge privately instead of in front of the entire group.
The jury selection process took around three hours. It was so different than I expected.
After the questioning, there was a 45-minute break so the judge and attorneys could seat the jury.
All of the potential jurors went back into the room and the judge called the names for the 13 jurors (including mine) and we were told to sit in the jury box.
Everyone else was dismissed, and the judge gave us the rules for being a juror — including not talking about the case to ANYONE, and not communicating with the lawyers or their clients other than a “Hello.”
We got a lunch break, and then when we returned, the trial began. We heard opening arguments from each side, and got started with witnesses.
Serving as a juror
We listened to the witness until almost 5pm on that same day we were selected. Then, we listened to other witnesses for four additional days.
On day six, we heard the closing arguments, and then we start deliberating.
The deliberation was the first time we could say anything to anyone about the case.
For the deliberation, the judge gave us a set of question to answer, and our answers had to be based on the evidence provided during the case.
Although we were given five entire days of information, I felt like the questions really got to the core of the case, and focused the deliberation.
As a team, we selected our presiding juror, who was someone who served on a jury before. He led us the entire day in deliberation, and all of it went much smoother than i anticipated.
Once we reached a verdict, the bailiff gave it to the judge to review. The bailiff gave us the verdict back, then we went into the jury box.
All of the attorneys, clients, and even members of the public were there. The presiding juror gave the bailiff the verdict, who handed it to the judge.
The judge read the verdict and asked all of the jurors if we agreed with it (it was unanimous).
This case involved so many people, and was so emotional — I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as nervous as I was when the judge read the verdict!
When it was over, the judge came back into the deliberation room and thanked us for our service. She also gave each of us a certificate for completing jury duty, and we got to ask her questions.
My thoughts on jury duty
Honestly, I have 0 complaints about my time as a juror!
I know this probably sounds crazy because so many people hate it. However, I learned so much about the Texas legal system, and I found the entire experience fascinating.
I was really interested in seeing how each side would present their case, what each witness would say, and how the evidence would make me feel.
Since I am still unemployed and job hunting, having a clear plan each day, with something to work toward, and a group of people to see… it was really nice.
I actually felt pretty lost when the case was over and I had to return to my “normal” life.
Personally, I don’t know anyone else that’s been a juror. But, a few of the other jurors had served previously.
From what they said, and from what the judge said, most trials aren’t as long as this one. Regardless, I’m grateful for my experience.
Have you served on a jury?
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