August 28, 2009

Objection! Overjoyed.

Hey everyone! Where have you been? It's been weeks since I have seen you around. What happened?

Oh, that's right. I deserted my post. Bad Mara.

First let me say...oh, how I have missed you so. I am sorry it took me so long to come back.

So...where did we leave off? Ah, yes. Jury duty.

I have to be honest it took me a little while to process my feelings on this. I am definitely glad I had the experience and didn't try to get out of it. If I had, it would have been a lie because I didn't have a hardship to claim. I am glad I accepted the responsibility instead of running away just because other people have said they didn't like it.

I will say that jury duty can be mentally and sometimes emotionally exhausting. At times it can also be a bit boring because you are asked to wait, and wait, and wait while the administrative items are dealt with or when a side bar discussion takes place. However, sometimes those breaks were what I needed the most; To readjust in my chair so my foot didn't fall asleep, daydream about what I would rather be doing in the sunshine streaming through our beautiful courtroom windows, get a drink of water so I could take full advantage of the 15 minute potty break. Overall, it was a good experience that made me feel strong and intelligent...grown up even.

So what did I learn from the case? I'm not going to go into the details because it's a long and confusing story, but if you would like to know more about the outcome you can read up on that here. Basically I learned that sometimes we can change our mind...alot. All throughout the case I was rooting for a different player. The lawyers were very good at painting the pictures and pulling at our heart strings. Every day I changed my mind at least once about the case. It made me realize that we can see one issue in multiple ways when we change our perspective even the slightest amount. During an argument, or even a discussion, it is important for us to stop and try to step into each person's shoes before we act or react.

During the closing arguments, jury duty was related to a game of chess. The jury sits and watches all of the players make their moves, but they haven't been told the rules. At the end of the day we were finally told what the law had to say about all of the evidence we had witnessed. This was our best tool. We also had exhibits that had been admitted and our personal notes from each testimony. But the law...the guidelines...the instructions...gave us our direction. We entered our tiny little jury room and sat at the big table for 12 ready to start the discussion. It was our first discussion regarding the case in 2 weeks, since we are not allowed to talk to family or friends about the details...not even our fellow jurors.

Finally!

A chance to vent.

We started our discussions talking about how the case made us feel and what our emotions and guts were telling us to do. Then, we re-read the "rules" and knew that we had to throw out all of that and look at only the facts. We sorted through the emotional muck and found that the law had spelled it out pretty clearly for us. We could only take this so far. We all wanted to root for the underdog and do the right thing for the "victim," but we had to put all of that aside. It was hard, but it was necessary. We didn't have enough cold hard facts, enough straight evidence to get there. In the end, we did what we could and both parties received a little bit of satisfaction, I think.

Now that it is over, it has left me with something to contemplate. When it comes to life's decisions, do you listen to your heart or your mind? We had to choose the law (mind) even though our feelings (heart) felt differently. In cases like this where they contradict, which one is right?

We trust a jury of our peers (our thoughts, our conscience and our passions) to help us make the right decision...sometimes without knowing the "rules" of the game of life. So who should win? Is the mind really more rational than the heart? I know many people who have followed their mind to do what is best and now have regrets and many others who have taken a leap of faith with their heart and have all they have ever wanted.

I am starting to believe that no matter what our decisions, we can analyze and weight the options, but we can't truly control the final outcome. There is never a right or wrong choice. There is simply just a choice.

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