Overall, I would say that I had a good experience while serving on Jury Duty. I don't plan on putting my name on a list to serve a case once a month, or once every year for that matter, but I'm glad that I was picked.
It was interesting to me to sit through the trial, learn about the court system, and experience what a trial is really like, rather than rely on Judge Judy or Law & Order to tell me everything I need to know about the juditial system. I never knew all of the rules and instructions that had to be followed by the lawyers, the judge, the witnesses, and the jury.
I was not allowed to talk about the case while the trial was occuring, which was hard for me, but it kept our opinions safe from being swayed one way or another. This also included talking to my jury-mates. It wasn't until deliberation day after the case was complete that we were allowed to say anything about it. And in order to discuss, all 12 had to be in the jury room; no where else.
Once the trial was over, we were told that we could talk about it, research it, give opinions about it, etc etc etc; it didn't need to be kept a secret any longer.
My case involved a 13 year old girl who accused her father of touching her in a lewd manner one night when she was 10. At the very beginning of the trial, something in my heart continued to say "he's not guilty." I remember thinking, Why do I feel this way? I don't know enough to make a decision yet.
As the trial continued on for the next three days, this feeling remained within and began to increase. (In order to proclaim that someone is guilty, the jury must have no reasonable doubt. If in fact a person has even a hint of reasonable doubt about the accusation, then automatically that person is not guilty.)
By the end of the trial I was confident that the man was not guilty. I felt that the state had not done enough to prove to me that this situation occured in the manner that was presented. It was a very hearsay case (he said/she said). I felt the witnesses were not reliable, situations were stretched, and words were taken out of context.
My heart went out to this man and to the daughter, even if I couldn't believe what the daughter claimed.
The hardest thing during the trial was to not think with my feelings, because everyone who knows me knows that I am a very emotionally driven person; we too could not think about what could happen afterwards. Relying on feelings and what could happen afterwards could greatly influence a person's decision for the verdict, so I tried with all that I had to think like my husband (an engineer).
Once myself and the rest of the jury went into the deliberation room, we talked through things first, and then we took a vote to see where everyone was at. Myself and another gentleman were hardset on not guilty. Eight were set on guilty. Two others were unsure which way, but said they were leaning more towards guilty.
We spent about three hours discussing, re-listening to evidence, and making sure that our verdict would go with the instructions written from the judge. My heart continued to break because I felt there was not even close to enough evidence to prove this man did was the acusation said he did. We recessed and agreed to think about it over the weekend and return Monday to agree on a verdict.
I went home and I prayed like I've never prayed before. There was no way I was willing to declare a hung jury (for numerous reasons), but I felt that my God was big enough to change the hearts of these people if the man was in fact innocent. I spent night and day weeping, praying that hearts would be changed.
When I returned on Monday, we took a count right away to see where people were at.
Ten people were for not guilty; the other two were set on guilty.
I almost started crying right there in the jury room because of the faithfulness of my God I was able to witness. Even before I was picked for this jury, I prayed and asked the Lord to put me on this trial IF He needed me on it to stand up for justice. And I was able to do so.
After more investigation and discussion, the two men finally changed over to not guilty, fully understanding that there wasn't enough truth presented to imprision this man.
I was even more encouraged and the decision was confirmed when the judge told us later that afternoon (after the trial), that he too would have voted the man not guilty.
God needed me to stand up for justice, and I was able to witness a miracle of hard hearts changed to see truth. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful things I've ever experienced. Daily, I try and pray for Jeff, and also for Lacey, as both of their worlds have been turned upside down since this accusatoin was made one year ago in October. I will probably never see them again or ever talk to them, but God has reminded me that they too need prayer, even if I never know the outcome of their lives.
Stand up for justice.
Believe that it will be served.
And trust our God to break down the walls that stop it from occuring.