Jury Duty: A Millennial’s Perspective

Laurel Kraus, Life Editor

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So you receive a letter in the mail that states where and when to go, you show up on that day and get admitted through security. You stand in line, get handed a pink badge, find an open seat, sit down and wait. All day.

Sound familiar? This is the front lines of jury duty.

Mention those two words to practically anyone and it’s as though the politically correct response has to be a choice between, “I’m so sorry”, and “it’ll bore you to death.”

Call me crazy, but after experiencing the entirety of the system firsthand, I would have to lean toward, “what an honor” and “if you get selected you’ll have a fascinating experience.”

Just last week I was awarded the opportunity to serve as juror number two on a criminal trial for a man accused of being the getaway driver for an armed assault and robbery. Actual footage from the incident and witness testimony from FBI agents were only a part of the overall captivating process.

The one thing I couldn’t help but notice through it all, however, was the constant and persistent complaining. I was so excited to be there, yet all around me for three days was the griping and groaning from my fellow jurors about how, “it’s such a beautiful day but we’re stuck here,” or “I was so hoping they wouldn’t pick me” or “they could at least bring us bagels in the morning.”

Not to mention those who weaseled their way out of being selected in the first place. With only 14 seats to fill, it took the understandably frustrated judge nearly two hours to complete the task due to the nearly 30 American citizens who claimed that just three days of service would cause them irreparable undue hardship.

The ordeal got so ridiculous that the judge even paused the process to deliver a short speech on the honor and importance of service, which hung from the remark that, “this country only asks two things of us, taxes and jury duty.”

This certainly seems like a small price to pay in return for the absolute freedom, comfort and prosperity that is the United States of America. That being said, while it’s fairly agreeable that taxes are simply no fun, the same can hardly be proven of jury duty.

The reluctance to miss a few day’s pay or time with the family is understandable. But supporting our system of government, which is unlike any other in the world, should be considered more of an honor.

Beyond our civic duty is the chance to experience the serious yet buzzing atmosphere surrounding jurors, from the escorts by a bailiff to attorneys avoiding eye contact and quite literally doing a 180 when spotting a juror in public.

In short, the entire concept of such a system places members of the jury at the center of all proceedings, as these individuals ultimately bear the responsibility of determining a person’s innocence or guilt.

The experience is exciting, educational and absolutely one of a kind.

But if none of this has proved convincing that jury duty is anything more than an inconvenience, then hey, at least there’s a cool certificate at the end.