Friday, July 17, 2009

Jury Duty & You

I was recently called to jury duty. It was my first time. I had visions of the moment Mr. Von Trapp received his letter to report to Berlin (Sound of Music)... I thought of the Jews in concentration camps being herded to their deaths... Of course, a day of jury duty probably wasn't going to end so tragically. Still, I'd heard about the boredom of waiting, the potential for multiple days of trial if I was actually seated... I hopped the train & we ambled downtown.

Coffee in hand & a half hour to go, I wandered aimlessly for a bit & then made my way to the courthouse. Security checkpoint. Marble hallway & stairs. People everywhere. Signs everywhere. "Jurors to the Left". I entered another hallway lined with chairs & people & waited. Within minutes, the jury coordinators opened the doors & let us in. We exchanged our summons for juror badges & took our respective seats. It was a huge room... I imagine by a rough count, they could have packed 300 of us in there. There was a podium front & center & a judge came to talk to us for a bit, commending us for answering our call to duty, for playing an important role in the justice system. We watched a short introductory film & then we waited. 2 hours in, the first group was called. My heart beat each time, wondering if I would hear my name uttered.... 4 hours later, indeed, I was shuffled out of the room & commissioned to traverse 4 flights of stairs with 17 other potential jurors.

A couple Sheriff's deputies were on hand in full regalia as they opened the doors to the courtroom. The court assistant seated us & then came the judge. "All rise"! He wasn't an imposing man, just your average looking joe. But his black robe, his position required special honor. So we stood. And we sat when he told us to sit. So what? Well, if you've never been in this kind of environment, it can be surreal. Most of us didn't know what was going to happen next (despite the fact that we paid such close attention to that introductory video). We were told to raise our right hands & affirm an oath of truth. Done. I felt strangely like I'd just sold my soul. We listened as the judge read the charges & then we were told to answer a series of 9 questions. All of us had to answer- name, occupation, hobbies, etc. Since it was a case involving minors, the lawyers honed in on people who were parents or worked with kids or had friends in law enforcement...

The questions were monotonous, even ridiculous & self-explanatory at times. I felt like getting up & saying "It's obvious you're leaning a certain way here, so if you don't need me, I'm gonna step out..." But I didn't. I couldn't. I stayed in my seat not out of reverence necessarily, but out of fear. Getting up & walking out wasn't acceptable. I was there till the judge said I was free to go. If I was picked for the jury, I would be in it till the trial was over. Otherwise, I could be held in contempt, fined or even jailed... Thoughts flew through my mind of revolt, of making a scene, of testing the system to see what would happen. What if I showed utter disregard for my time there? I'd be taken into custody in short order. At least at this point, though I was technically in a form of custody, I was still free. So I sat quietly, watching the minutes tick by ever so slowly... Finally, after 2 & a half hours, they picked their jury & let the rest of us go.

My point is, I realized I don't have much contact with tangible authority- especially authority with black robes & guns. My present authority is usually my boss at work or the cop I pass on the other side of the street. The rules of the road, the walk sign, the unseen, common sense morality are my authorities in day to day life. But there's another Authority over them all, & those authorities only exist because He has established them. He, of course, being God. And I wonder, if earthly authority causes me to consider my actions & obey without question, what of God's authority? Do I respond to Him in like manor? Or do I think I'm free to disregard protocol b/c Jesus is the Mediator between us? I believe we ought to know God as our Father. I believe we ought to consider ourselves His adopted children. But I also believe perhaps we've forgotten about His authority over us, & the reverence & holiness we ought to show Him in light of that...

No comments:

Post a Comment