I walk past this Rosa Parks statue nearly every day on my way to work and I never read the words inscribed on it; that is until today. I was entering the Essex County Courthouse for my second day of jury duty, when I felt compelled to stop. The writing said, “you must never be fearful about what you are doing if it is right.”
No one checked my ID as I entered the building nor did they ask about my cane or give out directions. The woman at information desk was at least there but she was chatting. I guess that’s why she didn’t tell us that the elevator we’d gotten in was broken.
When I finally made it to the eighth floor, I stood in the hallway for 40 minutes. A few feet from me was another prospective juror who smelled like he’d just smoked marijuana.
28 of us waited to be interviewed by the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney to see if we’d be picked. I sat there torn. I didn’t want to hear the rest of the details of a case involving a man accused of orally, vaginally and anally raping a child over a half dozen years in multiple states. I was afraid of the effect the testimony would have on me. However, I wanted to use my analytical skills to help determine what was right.
The guy who said he didn’t like people was dismissed. The man who didn’t understand reasonable doubt was also let go. Then, the man who weighed law enforcement testimony over witnesses and the woman who admitted she didn’t think the justice system is fair were excused too. Only half of us were left when the final juror was finally seated.
As we left the courtroom and checked out for the final time, I was actually disappointed I wasn’t selected. I’d decided that honoring those who fought for my right to vote by participating in this system outweighed my discomfort. Well, maybe next time I’ll get to do that.
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