Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jury Duty and Green Onions

I was called for Jury Duty sometime in November. Here you're required to serve for 3 months or on 3 juries, whichever comes first (sort of like 3 years or 30,000 miles for your car warranty). I've been to 3 different voir dire proceedings. Two of them were murder trials. One of them was this morning. You get forms to fill out ahead of time so the counsel on either side can weed out obviously undesirable jurors. At today's proceedings, I got called in for a "private" questioning by counsel based on my questionnaire responses. It's only private in that none of the other jurors were there. The judge, multiple lawyers, court reporters, media with video camera, the defendant, other interested parties were all watching as I stated my name and address for the record. It made me sweaty in that icky, clammy way.

The State's Attorney asked me, "Ms. Audette, you wrote in your questionnaire that you do not think you'd be a good choice for this jury and that you do not want to see or hear graphic testimony. Could you expand on that by telling me what you mean by graphic testimony?"

I said, "I don't want to know or be exposed to any graphic details or pictures about the murder. I don't want to know how it happened or what injuries were caused." Admitting this out loud was uncomfortable for me. It didn't seem like the "right" answer and I like to give people the "right" answers.

"It is likely jurors will be asked to look at pictures of the victim and make judgments about the medical examiners testimony. Would you be able to do this?" he asked.

I felt the heat building up between my sweater and the wooden jury bench. It would have been easier to say, yes, I can be detached enough to do that effectively, but that's not my true feeling. The truth is that it would be too painful for me to spend a week or more trapped, listening to details of human brutality. It would be too heart wrenching to know the parents of the victim were sitting in the courtroom living through the nightmare all over again. It is too much of a burden for me to bear and although I could make myself do it, I am not willing to accept that burden. By asking me to elaborate on my position, the state's attorney gave me an opportunity to be true to my self. Honoring my inner-most feelings tends to be messy, that is, it involves tears.

"No, I would not be able to do that." I started to choke up. I was embarrassed but relieved I didn't say yes.

"And could you tell the court why you wouldn't be able to do that?" the State's Attorney asked.

"It would just be too sad." That's all I could say. It seemed too simple, too childish. Didn't I need to justify my position more thoroughly with more detail and defensiveness? I must have seemed silly to all the people in the court room. I don't even know the victim or the family. I apologized for crying.

What a silly thing to do- apologize for crying. I promise myself I will never again apologize for crying. Hell, while I'm feeling so generous, why not go ahead and let myself cry more often? It softens the heart and waters the soil so things can grow. I have a friend who's told me that's my problem, I'm always acting so tough. Maybe he's right.

One other thing for today. I really wish you could purchase green onions individually at the grocery store. When you need them for a recipe you only need like one or two at most. They're usually critical to the taste of a dish so you don't want to do without them. You use two scallions in your Chicken Peanut Soba Noodle Salad and then shove the rest into the depths of your refrigerator where they molder for 3 weeks into slime. Maybe someone should start a Scallion Sharing Cooperative or something.


  1. The best blog entries are those that make you cry and laugh all in one. I applaud your honesty and totally agree with the onion thing. I probably have some molding in my fridge as we speak.

  2. Wow, I had jury duty about 4 years ago- I was an alternate, so I had to stay for the whole trial then at the very end (because all the primary jurors made it through) they released the alternates. The case was a guy who got hit on a motorcycle and was injured by another driver. I don't even know what the outcome was... NO CLOSURE- I'm pissed- lol

    Good job Jen, stick to your guns

    Temet Nosce

  3. Great writing by the way. I'm reminded of Stephen Kings "flow" while reading- its like being able to listen to your inner thoughts and introspection. You should look into doing a column in the local paper freelance! Just prep some content and send it in...