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A Jury of Your Peers

This week I fulfilled my civic responsibility ... of jury duty.
Although I never got as far as voir dire, I did sit in a room for two days with approximately 60 other individuals whose lives temporarily stopped for the chance to balance the scales of justice.
I haven't much in terms of profundity re this experience. But I do have a visual vignette:
When I arrived at the Regional Justice Center in a far-south suburb of Seattle, I came in the back entrance, where I saw a crowd of mostly people-of-color standing in line waiting to get in.

I veered toward that entrance until I saw the armed guards motioning people away ... and I saw the sign above that entrance that read "Detention Processing." Apparently these people were lining up to be admitted to the jail located in the facility.

I walked further toward the building, this time to the front, and saw a predominantly white crowd filing through the security barriers, where everyone was scanned for weapons and any other contraband -- to be admitted to the Jury area.

For the past two days, I spent a mostly pleasant time with people who looked a lot like me, with fairly similar lives to the one I lead. Some richer, some poorer, some more or less educated.

But I didn't meet or observe anyone who would have been a more likely candidate for that line weaving into the Detention area.

What about a jury of your peers? Does that happen today? Can it happen?


Blogger TLP said...

Oh no. You may have gotten me started. Shouldn't do that.

It starts early: a white kid maybe uses drugs, and he/she gets another chance because someone in the family can pony up the cash for re-hab. Black kid doing the same crime, goes straight to jail.

There would be more people of color on juries, if more of them were registered to vote. Of course, they may wonder who there is that they would want to vote for.

6:37 PM

Blogger Bela said...

Registration is compulsory in the UK so I expect juries end up reflecting more closely the multi-racial society we live in.

Since I am not a British subject I cannot be called for jury duty. I'm quite sad about that: I would have found it fascinating, I'm sure.

7:54 PM

Blogger Doug said...

I've never been called to a jury. Balancing the scales of sarcasm is as close as I've been.

Peer is badly defined as neighbor. I think when we get the latter word right, we'll have the peer.

Tell you what, this is kind of my department:

NEIGHBOR, n. Someone close enough to your side to look down at.
PEER, n. Anyone near enough in station, class and function to misjudge you.

11:12 AM

Blogger mireille said...

oooh, good ones, D. xoxo

6:03 PM

Blogger WinterWheat said...

Hmmm, how does the legal system define "peer?" If you can't find a perfect match, which attributes trump which? Is a wealthy African American more of a peer to a poor African American than a poor Anglo American would be (i.e., does race trump class)? Or does the legal system even attempt to define "peers?" I don't have the answer, but now I'm really curious. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, as usual.

1:57 PM

Blogger ariel said...

"whose lives temporarily stopped for the chance to balance the scales of justice." - I loved it.

you are so smart. knowing me I would have joined the wrong line...

1:05 AM


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