As I was (FINALLY!) selected to be a part of a Jury pool, I’m going through the slow process of going from “selected” to “acceptable”. That entailed, because of COVID-19, an online survey of 50 questions, then a virtual “hearing” in which the prosecutor and then the defending lawyers had the chance to question me (the prosecutor did and I clarified the answers to two of my questions by asking THEM question which were then answered), and then an in-court appearance which, again, each prospective juror appeared one by one to answer questions from the two attorneys.
This time, neither had a question for me. Now, I sit and wait to see if I get “the call” to appear on Monday morning for the actual trial. If so, like the past few days, I’ve been tied up and Steve has been bearing the brunt of the writing.
Sidenote: so if you ever had the hankering to write an Op-Ed for GraniteGrok, here’s your chance to do so. Especially you, frequent commenters – let it fly and move a few of your thoughts from the Comment area to the Front/Home page. Most of you are actually talented writers – you just don’t give yourselves the credit you have already earned – send them to Steve@GraniteGrok.com because I will be otherwise occupied (and, most likely, Internet-less. Help Steve and I out – and, to be honest, yourselves!
As I was walking up the steps of the courthouse, the thought popped into my head – is it really just determining if someone is guilty or innocent? So, as often happens, a monologue went off in my head (and sometimes, it is a conversation to boot!):
All men are innocent until proven guilty.
But is it really about just innocence or guilt? Let me plagiarize the words of Justice Carroll as he was overseeing the Parental Rights case for the Youngest and it hinged on “Liberty”. He explained that THIS case, none of his “Liberties” were going to be taken away as it was a civil case (which to save a lot of time, we ended up adopting the Grandson three years ago (BOY, is time flying by!!).
This is not that kind of case – this is a criminal case. While many will think we are determining innocence or guilt, is it really just that? Guilty or innocent – neither really describe what is really about to happen. It really will be a case of their Liberties fully restored or fully taken away (or technical, pretty much most of them). Our Government was created to protect our Liberties – both from itself (via Negative Rights) and from others as well. Yet, in this case, Government may (or may not) be taking away those Liberties.
I look at this from this prospective – Liberties are to be decided. That is what we, the jury, is to sit in judgement.
We are to take all the physical evidence and decides out if it fits. We are to listen to the witnesses and determine if they are believable or not. We then will listen to the two systems (or narratives, if you wish) being created by the prosecutor and the defense attorneys as they take both the physical evidence and the testimonies to tell the stories they want to impress upon us.
Then, as I see it, we are to take both of those systems and apply them against the Law. In manufacturing, there is (or should be, anyways), a Standard of Measure – does this widget comply with predetermined quality standards as determined by the design and manufacturing engineers with overlays from Marketing, Sales, and Finance? Does said widget comply with that SoM or is it out of compliance. Same thing in Software Engineering – a specification is created for a new update or an entirely new system – does the newly creating software meet (or not) that design spec?
So, too, will the narratives either comport with the Standard of Measure – the RSAs that control the contours of what either has happened or not happened. Will either attorney assemble their “system” such as to persuade that their system is the one to be taken – or not. Or, as the case may be – neither of them sufficiently proved their case at all. Tie goes to the runner.
And ALL of this is about the most precious thing we have as American Citizens – the Liberties we possess (and not granted as the Left says) as a birthright.
Will we, as jurists decide that the State has not proved its case that Liberties are to be confiscated? Or, has an egregious assault (e.g., breaking the Law) on our actual “Social Contract” happened (and I’m not talking about that nebulous, seemingly-always-on-the-side-of-the-Left’s “assumed” Social Contract for which they can never actually show a copy)?
Our system of Justice really revolves, at least for me today as I think about the process, about right and wrong, innocence and guilt, or about Liberty? Yes, right and wrong and innocence and guilt are all descriptors but for me, today, this moment, will I be part of a process in which Liberty is removed or restored?
I’m betting few of the other potential jury members are thinking this way. It has, today, this moment, certainly put a heavy load upon my shoulders. The civic duty of voting is far easier, for me at least, as it that too is about Liberty – but a bit more diffused as it is a longer term effect. Nov 3rd is also a trial of sorts but the results will take longer to be seen. The trial I may be seated for will have its affects immediately and more focused.
Liberty – it is the essence of what we should all be about. Unfortunately, most don’t think about it nor in this manner, I’m afraid to say. Am I the odd ball in this?
UPDATE: just as I finished this post, I got the email – I’ve gone from “potential” to “acceptable” to “selected”; I will be reporting for jury duty.