Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jury Duty Part II

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”

“Thank you”

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.


elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Thanks for speaking up on behalf of the profession. We all need to do this when the occaision arises. I don't know about you, but I'm real tired of being the whipping post.

As a former paralegal I can't believe the judge would make a comment like that in open court. It's appalling!

sophie said...

Good for you for standing up for yourself! Glad you didn't get picked. I admire teachers and they are certainly not the cause of the problem.

holleyt said...

Thanks for speaking up! We deserve it! Enough teacher bashing going on without having to hear it from a judge! You go girl!

Vanessa said...

My daughter is a second-grader in public school and I just grind my teeth when I hear people talking about how schools are cesspits and teachers are ignorant/sadistic/uncaring/etc. No, the system isn't perfect, and there are things I'd change if I could, but it's blazingly clear to me that the teachers and staff, at our school anyway, all have the kids' best interests at heart. You'll never hear wholesale bashing of teachers as a group from me!