Monday, April 25, 2016
You often see the harsh side of life when you get called for jury duty. This entry is from May 26, 2009.
One of my mother's favorite mom-isms was, 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' Actually, it is a direct quotation from Jesus in Matthew 22:14, King James Version, although I did not recognize it the thousand or so times she recited it. I get the feeling it has applications to me and our legal system. For the third time in the last several years, I was summoned to appear and make myself available for jury duty. And for the third time, no action. We, about six hundred or so residents of Harris County, gathered early this morning in downtown Houston. As juror numbers were flashed on big screens- my number was 3208- I was placed in a pool with sixty-four strangers. We would be whittled to twelve and sit in judgement on a case two blocks away from the jury assembly location. We marched as a group to the Criminal Justice Building, took elevators to the fifteenth floor....and waited....and waited...and waited outside one of the courtrooms. Inside, negotiations were taking place involving a plea bargain. After almost two hours, we were informed the case had been settled and we were free to go home. Once again, my background in teaching US Government and Civics was allowed to go unappreciated. There will be another summons- maybe next time.
As we waited, we became restless. Standing for extended periods on tile floors takes a toll on the legs so a number of us sat down, backs to the wall. There were scattered conversations and some read their books. Some continually texted and some, like me, just sat. She came out of the court room opposite ours not long before we were excused. She could have passed for one of our older students if she had been wearing a school uniform. She was alone....and she was sobbing. Her face was devoid of hope and her body language spoke a defeated heart. I don't know what went on behind those closed court room doors but it wasn't good for her. She managed to get on the elevator across from me and disappeared.
I wish my students could have witnessed that thirty second scene that I watched this morning. From a practical standpoint, it was a great example of what happens when you get in the court system. From a spiritual perspective, I could not illustrate the judgement any better than she did. Her fate, however severe or lenient, was sealed. All of us were almost embarrassed to look at the grief-stricken girl. We probably felt it would be inappropriate to say anything or reach out in any manner so she remained by herself. It reminded me that in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, Lazarus is with Abraham in the afterlife and the (former) rich man is isolated. I hope it was a minor offense the young lady committed, but her life is about to change. That's the point- we still can change. There will come a time when there will be no going back, no appeals, no do-overs, no plea bargains. And on that day, the decision will not be left in the hands of a jury.
Applicable quote of the day:
"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.”
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 7:44 PM