I was over at Matty's place (Running on Empty) and she wrote a great piece on Canada's hunt for a jury for a mass murderer's trial. They must find people who are capable of sitting on the jury for a year. He confessed to his crimes and has expressed no remorse for his multiple murders. The good citizens of Canada are to spend buckets of money for a fair and proper trial for this dude. Matty thinks that the only people who can spend a whole year on a jury are retired folks in good health and a few other assorted souls. If they seat enough people and then someone dies (old people tend to do that), they will have to start over again! Good Heavens! Most seniors really can't afford to give away a year of their pitifully short life expectancy. Personally, I couldn't sit still for whole days while the lawyers (or do they call them barristers there?) go through all the hanky-panky they learned in law school to get the guilty and depraved off. This is all a prelude to telling you about my experiences of being on juries.
I was called for jury duty when I was thirty-nine. I had been married for twenty-two years and had children who were a sophomore and junior in high school and a freshman in college. In those days, stay at home mommies were the rule rather than the exception. I made their beds, hung up their clothes, washed their nylons, ironed all their clothes, cleaned the house, cooked the meals and did the dishes for my husband and family. It was working very well, because my kids were very involved in their schools, sports, music, honors courses and worked in a restaurant. They all saved their money and totally paid for college themselves. We wanted them to have the very best experience in school that was possible, because I had been forced to do multiple household duties as a teen by the poor health of my mother. Then the summons for jury duty came! I panicked. How would my family get along without me for a whole week? How could I get up at the crack of dawn, get myself dressed, go downtown and still stay up late enough to maintain our home as we knew it? There are no excuses to get out of jury duty. If you were not ill and of reasonable sanity, you got the job. Off I went on the first day and found myself hoping that they would like me well enough to choose me for a jury. I believe we received $8.00 a day for serving. That almost paid for parking and lunch. Right away, I found myself seated on a civil jury. Oh, the joy of being in the middle of a real soap opera! The case consisted of a plaintiff charging that a cement truck had hit a car driven by an elderly man, who was taking a patient to a local hospital for a chemo treatment. This gentleman danced around at the scene while insisting that he was just fine and needed no treatment. However, the paramedics took him to the hospital with the injured woman. He sat in the waiting room of the E.R. for several hours, declining treatment and when the hospital got around to checking him over ---- they admitted him for observation, due to his age. Apparently, he suffered a blood clot in his leg that let loose and traveled to his heart. Dang! He died! Our feeling (in the jury room) was that he misled the medics claiming to be fine and the hospital neglected to diagnose him in time to prevent the embolism. The fact that the truck had actually hit his car did not cause his death, the delay in treatment caused his death. The accident was little more than a fender-bender. The lawyers wanted lifetime care for a retarded son, who was left after the accident and since the truck was from a large company, the lawyer went after
everything they owned the big bucks. The jury decided that the request was outrageous and found for the defendant. Ironically, the truck driver, also had a handicapped son and would have lost his ability to care or his son, if we had given them what they asked. The dollar signs were positively rolling around in the pig's lawyer's eyes. When the verdict was read, the defendant cried and we were dismissed. As we tried to leave the third floor of the court house, the plaintiff's attorney was in the elevator with some of the jury. He started raging at our lack of compassion (his lack of big buck fees) and actually chased us down the sidewalks of the courthouse shouting, "Which one of you is going to take this man home and care for him for the rest of his life?" I was scared out of my skin. We told the judge the next morning about what had happened and they filed a grievance. The actual depositions from the jury took six months to get going and when they were done (parking, driving and lunch out of our own pockets) nothing happened to this attorney. I felt abused by the law.
The next two days, I was seated on a criminal jury. After the experience with the civil thing I was frightened to be on the second jury. It involved a black man who had been living with a black woman and had stolen her household goods one day while she was at work. The witnesses for the prosecution and the defense all knew each other and sat together outside the court and ate lunch together. It was one big happy family for everyone except the jury. When we returned a guilty verdict and started out of the courthouse, all the witnesses were laughing and scratching, while going down the sidewalks. I was seriously frightened to walk to my car. If they had started to yell at us as the civil attorney had, I think I would have gone back into the courthouse and asked the judge to walk me to my car.
The amazing part of this was the fact that I was able to get out of the house and into the world ---- and my family did not perish in my absence. This led to my husband making a call to the nursing school and getting an application for me to take the admissions test. I loved reading anything (medicine bottles, if I am detained in the bathroom) and have always been curious about medicine. But, I had married at seventeen ---- long before I knew what area I would have liked to study in higher education. If I were starting out today, I would head right for medical school. By being a wife and mommy for twenty two years, I had the best of young motherhood, and going to nursing school at forty made me an absolute fool for learning. I got the best grades and couldn't get enough of the books. The human body and the disease processes are fascinating. I have been retired from hospital nursing for almost ten years and still read everything I can get my hands on. I never thought I wanted to teach, but I love teaching people about their illnesses and treatments. Every family needs a patient advocate in the medical community and believe me, Florida is crawling with seniors, who don't know s**t from Shinola when it comes to their health. Their doctors never give them a reasonable explanation of their orders --- they need a middleman. I help neighbors here, because I was called for jury duty over thirty years ago.
I was called for jury duty again a couple of years ago. I spent the morning in a back room with the rest of the jury pool --- all the time knowing that I couldn't be on any jury in that case. It involved the Highway Patrol and my son-in-law (a Sergeant involved in the case) was going to be one of the witnesses, but I couldn't even tell the other jurors that I knew what the case was. After four hours of sitting in a crowded room, we were dismissed for the day --- the case was postponed and remanded over to a court in a different city. Never make the mistake of thinking that the law knows what it is doing!