Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Admitting I was Catholic, Set Me Free

But not in a good way...  I was here yesterday

for jury duty.  

The criminal courthouse was connected to this...

the county jail.  

It was a bit unnerving for it was also located in a rough neighborhood of the city.

This was my first time being summoned to criminal court for jury duty.  Civil court is where I've always been sent so this was a new experience for me.  Around the lunch hour I was called to a courtroom on the 5th floor for the jury selection process.  They sent 50 of us to this courtroom to hear a brief description of the case and answer questions to the judge first, then the state attorneys and the defense attorneys.   Any of them could decide whether to keep us as jurors or not.

In general, most people do not like being selected for a jury because it disrupts their life.  Let's face it, it's inconvenient.  I, too, was hoping not to be selected on this jury for my own inconvenience and for the type of case it was.  

The charges were kidnapping and sexual assault of a minor.

So you hear all sorts of excuses why a person cannot serve on a jury.  Due to the nature of this one, many of the prospective jurors claimed that someone close to them had been raped.  Immediately they were excused.  

We were all asked the same set of questions such as:

"Do you know personally any judges, criminal defense attorneys, or police officers?"  
"What high school did you go to?" 
 "What do you do in your spare time?"  
"What do you like to read?"

I was questioned near the very end and I had noticed that anyone who stated they went to a Catholic High School were excused by either the state or the defense.   They didn't say it was Catholic but the ones mentioned were all prominent ones in our city's area.  As for myself, I did not go to a Catholic High School but when I was asked "What you do in your spare time?"  

I responded, "I teach religious education, I'm involved in pro-life work and I'm a Catholic Blogger."

There were all sorts of rumblings at the state attorneys table and the judge turned to them and asked if they had any questions for me.  Surprisingly, they said no and excused me from serving on this case.

This surprised me because I thought I would have been the exact type of person the state would want serving on the jury.  Maybe they thought I would blog about it, and I am, without disclosing the names of any involved parties.  Why would the state care that I'm Catholic and serve as a religious education teacher and do pro-life work?  Was this religious discrimination?  Admittedly, I was stumped.

I believed the defense would send me packing.  Not the state.  I'm really curious to know why but the truth is, I'll never know and I did my duty by going down for jury duty.

More importantly, there was a minor girl who allegedly was kidnapped for a couple of days and sexually assaulted.  Her family was in the courtroom watching the jury selection as was the defendant.  All parties involved need prayer asking for God's forgiveness, mercy and healing.  There was definite suffering and pain in the family and I felt it.  



  1. Interesting experience. I have never been selected for jury duty, but I have thought what I would do if selected- especially if I am breastfeeding and I can't leave my baby.

    Glad you got away from the duty, but you're right, you would have been one of the best canidates!

  2. hmm. not sure why you were excused. I love your new blog layout. so lovely.

  3. Interesting...wow, I wonder what the reason was...

    I've been called like 3 times, each time I've been nursing a baby and didn't have to go.

  4. I had an interesting experience this summer with jury duty--also a criminal case involving sexual assault of minors. My "number" never came up--but I was close to the end of the line of the 500 people called. 2 days after the jury was impaneled, one of the defense attorneys died in a fire, and they will have to start all over again this fall.
    I cannot even imagine what all the people involved are going through!

  5. Hi Noreen,

    I wonder what the Catholic connection was.

    I've never been summoned for jury duty and I am guessing I would always have an excuse not to do it, as we are homeschoolers. I wonder about all that responsibility. Not something that can be taken lightly. If I were ever in court facing a judge and jury, I'd hope that those deciding my fate would be of good character and Christians, if not Catholics. So in a way, it is regretful they didn't choose you, as you could have helped someone in need. On the other hand, maybe you are relieved they rejected you!!

    Noreen, I didn't know you are a religious teacher. How could I have missed that?

    What a wonderful title for a post!

    God bless!

  6. Yes, it was very odd that I noted that theme among the prospective jurors. The Catholic high school names had jumped right out at me but perhaps there was another common denominator??

    Barb ~ that would be a horrible situation for the victim and family of that crime to have his trial postponed. How tragic for the defense attorney. One of the questions we were asked, would you be able to keep an open mind if the prosecution did not prove without a reasonable doubt, would you find him not guilty. That's a tough one... would depend on the evidence.

    Sue ~ I just started teaching first grade religious ed at my church. It's on Sundays following mass.