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Faith: Serving jury duty an eye-opening experience

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19.01.2020

A day of jury duty has a Faith Perspective columnist thinking about crime and punishment in America.


It’s 8:37 a.m. and I’m at the Buck’s County Justice Center for jury duty. Greeted with a questionnaire, I’m asked whether I can apply the law as the judge explains it, whether I or anyone close to me has been charged with a crime or is the victim of a crime. Whether there is anything that might keep me from being impartial. Whether I’m available to serve.

There are more than a hundred people here today, answering the same questions. We sit in a large room with rows of chairs. The TVs are on and run all day. In the “quiet room,” comfortable chairs with attached tables and tables with chairs on wheels invite silence — except for the tapping of fingers on keyboards and the scratching of pens across pages, along with sniffles and sneezes and the occasional cough. I am lucky to find a chair by itself on a small wall next to a jag in the architecture.

We might be in one courtroom today, several, or none. We’ve been told not to take it personally if we are excused from a jury and not to leave if that happens. “We recycle our jurors,” they say.........

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