So I was at the courthouse from 8am until almost midnight last night. I've been called up for jury duty before (in Boston) but that just entailed sitting in a waiting room with an interesting cross-section of society for several hours and then being excused to go home. This time I "got" to actually be on a jury. It was interesting to be part of the process and I met some interesting people. But it was sad. The case was sad (domestic violence, damage of goods, child abuse). The witnesses were sad. The evidence was sadly lacking. The conclusion was sad.
We spent the day listening to short stretches of testimony between frequent and seemingly random recesses and having lawyers explain the burden of proof and the price of things like vacuums and cordless phones repeatedly. Then we spent hours deliberating. Sadly, we couldn't come to a unanimous verdict on all 6 counts so they declared a mistrial after all that!
Just so you know - if you're ever on a jury - you have to reach a unanimous verdict on ALL counts or it's a mistrial. It seems strange that no one explained this to us. We were all sad to see all our hard work go down the drain just because we couldn't come to consensus on one count. And if we'd realized how the whole mistrial thing worked, I think we could have finalized that one count. But we were instructed that it was OK to just come to a verdict on some of the counts. Sort of weird, we thought.
But anyway, as I listened to the witnesses yesterday, I sat there counting my blessings. I come from a great family. I have a great family. No one's ever beaten me up. No one's ever gone after my children. The police have never had to be called to any home I've been in (well there was that time when the police came through our house in San Jose trying to find our crazy neighbor who had run into our back door trying to hide from them...). There's so much sadness out there. And there's plenty of sadness scattered through my history - but it's all such little stuff when you look at what so many people deal with.