Jury Duty

Basket of Figs, April, 2004

Bud Powell

 

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I confess that I have made fun of it for many years.   For one thing, I didn’t think that I would ever have to serve.  I thought that if I stated that I was a minister and a teacher of theology that there was no chance that I would ever be called.  I was wrong.

 

I spent four of the first five days in March in jury duty.  It wasn’t a high profile case, except for the very sad family and few friends who sat in the courtroom the last day and heard the guilty verdict on all four of the counts.  It will not even rate a line or two in the local papers, I fear.

 

The woman was an addict, the girlfriend of an operator of a meth lab.  Of course, if she had good judgment there would have been no case, and I would have been doing something else that week.  But she was an addict and up to her ears in complicity and aiding and abetting.  There are hundreds of labs in Colorado Springs, I hear, and they are a scourge to the city and a shame to us.  But that is not the subject of this article.

 

We spent one day hearing the evidence and more than a day in deliberation.  I learned much more about the illegal manufacture of drugs than I wanted to know, and will never look at a book of paper matches the same way again.  I was impressed with the quality of the men and women who decided the case.  The youngest looked like a boy in high school, but I know he was at least twenty one.  An elderly lady and I were the oldest, but I didn’t ask her age.  I think one man was a Roman Catholic because his kids went to “Catholic school.”  I suspect that no one in the room understood the Christian origin of our liberties and freedoms and probably could not have been persuaded that such was the case.  But for those three days it didn’t matter in that room.  No one complained about the time and the work.

 

The overwhelming spirit in that room was the desire to work as hard, stay as long as was necessary to see that the defendant received every benefit of the doubt.  Everyone wanted to uphold the law.  It was hard work.  The detectives had not made it easy for us, nor had the overworked district attorney’s office.  The evidence was all there, but we had to work very hard to put it together.   But they were all fair and hardworking.  We were all Americans and proud of the system.  I am prouder now.

 

What a wonderful system!  For more than three days, we worked hard until twelve heads agreed that the woman was guilty.   We pieced the evidence together.  There were strong disagreements at times.  Emotions were strong, and the language was strong at times, but it was a very good thing that happened those days.  It was the American justice system at work and it worked very well.  I think that such trials are going on all over America, and that most of them work as well.  It ought not be easy to convict.

 

Sadly, the poor woman will spend a great deal of time in jail.  She was poor, of course, and had no charlatan or slick Harvard lawyer to enable her to evade the law. Her attorney was court appointed.  But she got a fair shake in Colorado Springs.  I hope that Kobe Bryant gets as good a shake.

 

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