This morning was my first opportunity ever to be in a court of law. This is kind of sad. I have many lawyers in my family (father, grandfather, uncles, cousins) but I never really thought about going to court. If you have never had the experience to be involved in the judicial process, it is interesting to say the least. The drama that you see on television court is just that, drama.
I was one of 60 potential jurors and did not end up getting picked to even sit in the jury box as a possible candidate. The Bailiff and Clerk of Courts came to the front of the court to thank us for our service. We all stood as the judge came into the courtroom. He also thanked us for coming and said that even though there were so many of us that we were in court for something very important and that although he knew our time was valuable, justice was important and a mistrial was not something that he wanted to have happen. The actual case was explained to us right away. It was a potential murder trial. An individual was accused of selling meth to another person who died allegedly from the drugs. The "Len Bias" law was explained to us and then the accused, attorneys, and potential witnesses were introduced. Then the proceedings actually began.
The clerk of courts had all of our names on tiny cards and these names were in a tumbling box. She picked out a total of 23 to start. The judge, district and defense attorney each took turns asking questions of the jurors. If you had a reason that you could not be impartial or able to uphold the law and find the defendant guilty then you were excused. There were probably 10 individuals that ended up being excused. Each time someone was dismissed another name was called until each of the attorneys had finished their questioning. There were a total of 13 jurors that needed to be selected, 12 sitting jurors and an alternate. The person who was the alternate would not know that they were the alternate until deliberations started. At this point the lawyers had alternating chances to decide which jurors they wanted to not have on the jury. It was interesting to watch the questioning and hear the answers of the potential jurors. The entire process was less than 4 hours. The choosing of the jury is a very serious part of a trial. I have a better understanding of this now. A mans life is going to be determined by the evidence. The jurors will have to reach a unanimous verdict. This entire trial is expected to last a week. I will be waiting to hear what the verdict will be.