What Happens When You Report for Jury Duty in Sacramento?

jury duty in sacramentoThe defendant’s lawyer kicked this Sacramento real estate agent out of the jury box like yesterday’s news. I wish I could tell you what happened in that courtroom but I can’t until the trial is over. However, I can tell you what it was like for me to be called in to perform my civic responsibility by reporting for jury duty in Sacramento.

To start with, I walked away feeling a bit disappointed that I was unable to serve on the jury. I realize this goes against what most people think and verbalize about serving on a jury. I mean, what’s your first reaction when you receive a notice to appear for jury duty, known as a Summons for Jury Duty? Be honest! You groan. You don’t want to do it. You might say OMG. You might use a more descriptive four-letter word. It’s a little frightening for some people as well, I imagine. You wonder how you can get out of serving on a jury, and I am betting you go through all of these emotions because you’ve never served on a jury or been involved in the process, or maybe I’m just describing myself.

My reaction — that I was disappointed — astonished me. It was not what I had anticipated. I had been expecting to feel elated to have been dismissed, and that’s not what I felt. Here’s what led up to that experience:

I was expected to report to Room 203 in the Sacramento Courthouse, which is up the stairs and to the left. This is after putting my bag on a conveyor belt to be X-rayed and walking through Security. The directions aren’t very clear about what you’re supposed to do in that room, but first you line up on the red line in front of the windows. You hand the clerk your Summons for Jury Duty, take a badge holder from the box located right under your nose, which I missed, and pick up a 4-page form to fill out.

Then, you take a seat and wait. You can check your cellphone, read a book or buy snacks / drinks from a vending machine. Eventually, there will be a G-rated movie with Robin Williams. The first video we watched was a judge, a woman, talking about why we have Jury Duty and our responsibilities under the United States Constitution. I was very happy to see a woman chosen to make that video, and am reluctant to call any judge a “woman judge” using sex as a modifier, because judges should not be viewed as female or male, they are all Superior Court Judges.

Then another judge came into the room to talk to us. He said we would be astounded to learn how many citizens in Sacramento fail to appear under a Summons for Jury Duty, and the mere fact that we were present in that room meant our parents raised us correctly. He gave a little pep talk, thanked us for our service and left. I looked around the room. A beautiful woman walked by wearing a brown polka-dotted jumpsuit, offset by a tight brown belt around her tiny waist that accentuated one of the biggest rear ends I have ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off her huge butt. It was out of proportion to the rest of her body.

The jury room is a great people watching place!

Next, was a young woman in her 20s, with a long pony tail, dressed in a two-piece red and white striped t-shirt and skirt. The top portion seemed twisted in the back because the back of her bra was exposed. I wondered whether it was twisted on purpose and whether I would offend her if I tapped her shoulder to point this out. I don’t know about younger kids, I mean she might say it’s the way the outfit was designed and I should mind my own business, which is exactly what I ended up doing.

When we were called upstairs to the courtroom and seated in the jury box, the judge, again another woman and I was very happy about that, began to explain some simple basic concepts to us. I listened closely, and I heard something I sort of knew in the back of my mind but did not really understand nor fully appreciate until I was seated in that jury box. I’m talking about presumed innocence. We all know that we’re supposedly presumed innocent until proven guilty, or at least that’s the way many of us repeat it.

I don’t think the word “until” is used in this particular sentence in the law. Because “until” would imply that the accused is guilty and we just haven’t proved it yet. No, the defendant is innocent UNLESS proven guilty. Totally different meaning. If there was no evidence presented against the defendant, the judge would have to let the defendant go because the defendant is presumed innocent.

And they mean it. It’s not just an ideal that is not upheld. It’s our Constitutional Right. Everyone us, if we were brought before a jury of our peers, would need to be presumed innocent unless the prosecution presents convincing evidence to the contrary. What a concept. It never struck home like it did yesterday sitting in that courtroom. There is nothing like real life experience to help shape our attitudes.

Presumed innocent unless proven guilty. I mean, who knew?

If you ever receive a Summons for Jury Duty, I hope you will go.

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