first time juror

A few weeks ago, I was given a summons to appear at court for jury duty. On Monday, I fulfilled my obligation, and should not be asked again for another three years. This was my first time and honestly it was quite an experience and rather fun. I've decided for the purpose of being true to the moment to record what I had written in my journal while hanging out in the courthouse:

"10:26am - I am sitting in the Bexar County courthouse in the central jury room. I am summoned for jury duty ... or at least waiting to see if I am selected to be a juror. I have a back pack of stuff to keep me occupied for the day long of waiting. One, of course being this journal. Also, my laptop with free wi-fi and a book I am nearly finished with only an hour and half into this thing.

Well, all right. The third panel of the morning is called and I am selected, number 5 out of 25. We will see what happens.


10:58am - still waiting in the first floor hallway to be called into county court no. 1. So now I am undertaking the task of people watching. I am sitting on the floor at the intersection of the stairs and elevators and the main hallway. Lawyers are a funny thing to watch and listen to as they interact with each other.

The bailiff assigned to our little band of 25 is sarcastic. I guess it's better to make the job fun when dealing with volunteers who didn't really at all volunteer. I was trying to help him out by telling him what order were in (i.e. juror no. 1 is to my left) because a lady got out of line and forgot her place. He told me he put us backwards intentionally, and then made a funny comment about that he knows what he's doing. Juror no. 4 next to me told me after the bailiff walked away that she thought he was rude and didn't have to put me down like that. I just chuckled and told her that I can take his sarcasm. He's just poking fun & it's not at all malicious.

I would much prefer to jot the life happenings since returning from India (has it really been that long ago?!) and truly much is to be written. However, I have no idea when I will be called into the court room, and don't want to have an interrupted stream of thought - I do that well enough without help.


11:25am - Hmm. Still sitting in the hallway. It's 5 minutes till 11:30am when the juror peoples' lunch break is scheduled to begin. I wonder if the bailiff will tell us to do lunch then come back to waiting in the hallway, or we'll do our thing and have a late lunch. This is my first time; everything is a guess.


11:51am - Okay, progress! At 11:46am we were lined again for a change of scene. We were escorted into court room no. 8 and told that this would be our home for the afternoon. All I know is it is a criminal case. So now on lunch break, I am sitting in the hallway, just pulled out my laptop and ready to see what the world is up to.


12:52pm - I have roughly 20 min. until we are suppose to be back in line in the hallway where we've spent most of the morning.

(rambling on about different things that came into my head, ending with topics related to my previous post and 'Now what?')

'Now what' is to go back into court room no. 8 to see if I'm dismissed or selected. More later, whenever later is.


3:30pm-ish - whew. So the case is a DWI case, the defendant being a young male and the prosecution being the state of Texas as represented by the District Attorney's office. The funniest thing is every time the 25 jurors enter the room. The bailiff, leading us, calls out "all rise for the jury!" I smiled every time I heard it and tried very hard not to laugh out right. I never knew they stood for us, just the judge. eh, good times. And oh, all the jurors were re-numbered for some unknown reason (this is me hoping that it wasn't my fault for posting anything on facebook and twitter). I am now juror no. 4. The previous juror no. 4, my neighbor for the past hours is now no. 25.

So the judge explained a bit about what was going on and what was about to go on. Nice lady. She must have gotten tired of the black robe. The defense went first, asking us general and specific questions about our experiences with DWI, police, vehicle related accidents, different types of information presented as proof, and such to see if we think we would be fair and unbiased to both sides. Then the prosecution had their turn to do the same. I had no idea DWI was an opinion type of case. Without a blood-alcohol percent, it is the arresting officer's judgment if the individual is intoxicated (i.e. drunk) not just had been drinking or smelled like or whatever. I have discovered that I do not solely trust sobriety tests. If there was an established constant for each person, then I would feel better about it - but some people naturally have balance issues or eye-hand coordination issues. But then again, if are even possibly borderline intoxicated or had anything to drink shortly before wanting to leave - you should not drive! Driving is dangerous (and yes, sometimes fatal) without being hindered. Anyway, after recessing so that both sides could figure out who to eliminate from the jury as the faithful 25 went back into our real home, the hallway, we headed back in following the "all rise for the jury!". I was dismissed. Apparently I have the ability to be biased for and against both parties in several ways. So no one wanted me. Oh well.

Over all, not a bad first time. At least I was able to experience something outside of the basement (central jury room) by being called into a panel. My work here is done."


what's next?

So ...
Sorry, disrupting post for a short line of thinking: I begin a lot of thoughts with 'so'. I think it has something to do with the fact that whatever finally spills out through my mouth (or fingers), I have been churning in my head. So nothing is a stand-alone thought. Everything has context and is part of a larger story. I simply chose to give voice to a few strands of ideas while the rest is filtered or forgotten. Anyway, back to my 'so'.

So, I have been investigating what life might look like next for me. The last several years have had dramatically different looks and situations and life-changing moments. It is very much in my character to have things planned out. Now, hardly ever do things happen in the way that I plan, but I'm alright with that - God's imagination is bigger and more eternal than mine.

Very recently I found myself pondering about becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. I was very willing to see how that might look for me. I was getting pretty excited. A week ago however, after meeting with a recruiter, I went away with a feeling that it was not a good fit for me. Their focus (though an extremely good one) does not fit my passions and gifts. So no Peace Corps, at least for now.

Well, then what? Since I would not need to contend with that particular 2-year commitment, what should I focus on? The previous ministry I served with in India (Engineering Ministries International) is an amazing organization doing good work all over the world. But for me right now, it costs money I don't have, and more to the point probably, I don't yet feel qualified to be the sole architect on a team. Some day - and I don't ever choose to use that phrase as a cop out.

I greatly enjoyed Habitat for Humanity, both locally and on the international scene. So I have already scheduled to volunteer several days with the upcoming spring build here in San Antonio, and hopefully a two-week trip to somewhere (Alaska, Brazil, Macedonia ... I don't know yet) this fall.

I have also decided that it would be good for me to stop putting off graduate school. So I will be working on putting together another portfolio, polishing my resume, writing essays, and getting transcripts and such. Hopefully to start in the fall on a two-year study for Masters of Architecture.

That's where I'm at. We'll see what sticks and what else God has intentioned and made ready for me to join him in. Here's to life. (clinks of imaginary drinking glasses goes here)