JONESTOWN SURVIVOR goes to Jury Duty

This week, this last week of September, I finished up jury duty for the San Diego Superior Court. It was really fascinating. It made me feel proud being part of this legal process.

Last week, on Thursday, I was invited to appear at Jury Duty in downtown San Diego. I live about an hour away, during rush hour. I had the choice of appearing at a
closer venue, in Vista, but opted for the express bus and downtown. After all, I am NEVER selected. For the past twenty years, I have been repeatedly asked to show up for Jury Duty, but then released to go home.

I showed up at Court. I was called to go to a courtroom. I was number 23. I was confident that I’d be released. And then, the Attorneys and the Judge began questions the potential jurors.

We have our employment, and other benign info. I said I was a, “bilingual educator and author.” We were asked if we had any kind of criminal record. No, not me. We were asked if we knew anyone seen in the court. No, not me. We were asked if we had ever suffered domestic violence. No, not me. Those who had answered yes were interviewed further, and many were released. I became Juror 10, and was asked to sit on the Jury.

That process was so fascinating to me. It was a personal discussion, with intimate details alluded to or reviewed, for over forty or more adults of all ages, races, and both sexes. We became a little community, and immediately eliminated that superficial level of first conversations. I really felt that I was participating in the most diverse experience I have had for the past decade, other than gathering with my fellow Peoples Temple survivors.

From there, we started the trial. The trial was to decide the guilt or innocence of a man who may or may not have been involved in “battering” his girlfriend. Both Attorneys were competent and attentive. The Judge was calm and matter-of-fact. The case was presented with care.

I was very proud of our process when a group of Mongolian visiting judges came into the courtroom to observe. We heard the Jury instructions, and then the closing arguments from both the Defense and Prosecution attorneys. Next, we moved to the Jury deliberations.

The twelve jurors were diverse and also intriguing. We were all ages, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and women and men. I had made a silent guess that the group would make the Foreperson of the jury would be the white IT man. Ha ha, joke is on me. They chose me to be Foreperson of the jury.

We found the defendant not guilty on two of the charges, and had a hung jury (6-6) on a third charge. Once again, the discussion within the jury deliberation room was respectful, fairly intimate, and spirited. I was impressed with the whole process.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,