For six weeks, I complained about jury duty.
I received the letter from the District Court telling me to report. It was the first time I received a summons that I wasn’t scheduled to be flying out-of-town. As the day drew near, I began to settle in to the idea that Monday was going to be a first.
I got there early enough to be one of the first twenty people in the waiting room. All of the bailiffs and administrative assistants were pleasant and answered each person’s questions. (For the umpteenth time for sure). The room continued to fill up…and then even more. It ended when over three hundred of us filled the room.
Then the judge stepped to the mic…
Southwest Airlines is known for its creative and funny preflight speeches. The Judge was up to the task. He made us laugh with his quizzes about his name, who the Lieutenant Governor was and different quotes from actual lawyers that were better than tv. He covered many ways jurors cause mistrial and prevailed on us to steer clear of them.
But his second quiz, struck my thoughts. He asked, “Who knows the last three words of the Pledge of Allegiance?” While we all recited it in our mind, he answered, “Justice for all.” He continued by saying, “That is why you are here. Two of the rights the U. S. Constitution provides for you is your ability to vote and for a fair trial.”
All that complaining seemed very hollow in my mind. Like everyone else, my schedule is busy, packed…a wash of meetings, decisions and responsibilities. While I mulled this over, the judge said something else that struck me. He said, “Around our nation, there are cases that are postponed because they cannot seat a jury due to lack of people showing up for jury duty.” He said that was not the case in Tampa. They haven’t postponed a trial yet because of that.”
I didn’t make it on a jury. I was the first name called when they called for the first jury pool. But both times my name was called, I was recused due to the days of the trials conflicting with my GFC ManCamp commitment as a pastor.
It wasn’t convenient. It challenged my schedule. It interrupted my responsibilities.
But it also caused me to be grateful for those who crafted our Constitution and our legal system. Their strength is the essence of every person doing their part, even if it means “just showing up.” It’s foundation provides for liberty and justice for all.
God Bless America.