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Doing My Civic Duty

Well, it seems that it’s that time again. This week, I’m doing my civic duty–jury duty, that is.

Having lived during my professional life in four different states, I’ve been called for jury duty in three of the four, and each state’s procedures regarding juries is a little different than all the rest.

North Carolina never summoned me. Tennessee called me for jury duty once in about 20-22 years, and I was given an exemption because I was out of state attending college at the time. Pennsylvania called me once. That state had a policy of one day-one trial. If you weren’t selected the first day you showed up for duty, you had performed your duty. I wasn’t selected.

But with South Carolina, it’s been different. In nearly 13 years, I’ve received the summons three times, each time in a different court and location. The first time, I wasn’t chosen and never had to go back after the first visit. The second time I was summoned, I actually served on a jury, but the parties settled out of court literally as we, the jury, were getting ready to file into the jury box. Now today was the third time. I reported for the first day, got through the initial selection process, and was called to go into the courtroom. The judge read the indictment and then began the series of questions to winnow out those who felt that they could not render a fair trial. Then he polled the attorneys, and the selected (or excused) and seated the jury in preparation for beginning the trial. I wasn’t among those empaneled, and we were dismissed for the day.

But today is only Monday, and although the court is closed Friday for Veterans Day, there are still three days in which I might–might–be called. Meanwhile, I wait. I can’t make any plans for anything because I never know when I might be called.

And that’s my civic duty. And I must remember to fulfill the other great civic duty tomorrow–VOTE! A small price to pay for living in a land of law and laws. May we ever be so fortunate to live in a land where the law, not men, rule supreme!

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