Well, I wasn’t chosen despite the fact that I really wasn’t trying to get myself struck. After much, much waiting around 63 of us were herded into a courtroom where we sat in numbered, assigned seats and were told that under no circumstances were we to forget our number. All reading materials were to be under our chairs, all cell phones were to be turned off and all talking was to cease. There is a great deal of similarity between jury duty and school or the army. Sit down, be quiet and do as you are told.
It was a drug case, possession of less than a gram of cocaine. Texas has mandatory sentencing laws (news to me, but I don’t really keep up with changes in the drug statues) and if guilty the defendant would have to serve at least 180 days in jail. There then followed 2 hours of the most painful hair splitting as various potential panel members questioned the judge and the lawyers and in return answered the questions posed by the legal teams.
Some of the possible jurors were having a great of trouble visualizing a gram.
The judge couldn’t give a clear explanation. Finally, in frustration she announces:
“Well it’s no wonder I don’t know anything about this –my undergraduate degree is only in education”.
That remark didn’t sit well with me, since one of my degrees is also in elementary education and I am perfectly capable of visualizing a gram.
I raised my hand.
“I have a degree in elementary education; in fact I’m a teacher and you just insulted me and every other teacher in the room. Teachers get enough grief and bad press and I never expected to hear something like that from an elected official.”
She looked taken back
“I didn’t mean to insult teachers”
“Well, you did”.
“Do you think my comments would it difficult for you to render an impartial verdict”
“Oh, I do apologize”
After that exchange neither the defense, the prosecution or anyone else wanted anyone as outspoken as me on their jury panel.
The irony of it all?
I didn’t protest in hopes of getting struck, I was so angry at her statements that I couldn’t keep quiet. I'm tried of teachers being the whipping boy for all the the ills of society.