Yesterday I had the displeasure of experiencing jury duty. This is only the second time I have ever had to do so in my life. But both of these experiences were for the same court in Texas. I won’t say whether it was state or federal court because I am not sure how much of that I can disclose. The first experience in that court was relatively painless compared to yesterday’s experience, which took a ridiculous amount of time. On the other hand, both experiences in that court have things that are causing me to write this post today.
First of all, when you arrive you find that there is no free parking. Granted, they do have a reduced rate for jurors ($2 instead of $10) but they are causing a MAJOR disruption in the lives of law-abiding citizens and, as such, they should provide a close, safe, and free place to park.
Next, when you get inside they immediately start to herd you like cattle that is waiting to get branded. Then they usher you into a large room with inadequate seating with about 1,000 other people. After everyone is seated some government employee addresses the crowd telling us basically to expect to be mistreated because there is going to be lots of waiting on our part. Then one of the judges comes in to address the crowd telling us how good it is that we showed up for jury duty. (Like we had a choice.) She also said that if we weren’t there then the judicial system would come to a halt. So basically we were not being viewed as individuals and law-abiding citizens but instead as tools that the governments uses to keep the judicial system moving.
Then they start calling the jurors to various courts and more cattle herding ensues. After this we were escorted in numerical order (like all other aspects of the government we were known by the number that was given to us and not by our names). My group of jurors – 65 in total – was dropped off at the door of the courtroom and told “Stay, that’s a good juror” like we were the family dog.
What happened next you ask? Nothing for the next two hours. They made 65 law-abiding citizens stand out in the hallway with only a few benches on which to sit for two whole hours without ever uttering a word to us. In that time no one ever came out to tell us how much longer it would be, what we were supposed to do or anything else.
The rest of the day was spent with the judge and lawyers talking to us and asking us questions. Oh yeah, and a lot more waiting out in the ‘hallway of no seating’.
Now let me explain why I have written this synopsis of my day’s events – it is to ask a question. Why is it that those who are summoned to jury duty are treated in such a manner? The ones on trial are treated better than those on the jury. Even convicted criminals are treated better; after all, there are laws in place to make sure convicts are at least treated like human beings. But in my experience there is no such concern for those law-abiding citizens that are summoned to jury duty. We (those 64 people along with myself out in that hallway) were treated really no better than animals. In fact, I have seen many family pets that are treated far better than we were yesterday. And why is that? I think it is because this country, especially its government, has forgotten that the people of this country, and in fact all people, are created in the image and likeness of God. And due to that fact, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and not as tools to get a job done. Yet that is how we were treated. But really it makes sense that the government views us in such a way. After all, it is the same government that doesn’t even recognize us as human at the moment of our conception.