I received a jury duty summons in January and I was NOT happy about it. I had to go into the superior court and it was the day after my birthday. I had all of my excuses (lies) ready to get out of serving on a jury. That morning, I was in the first group called, the first group of 6 to be questioned (they had already selected 10 the day before) and I was the only one of the 6 to be kept. By the end of the day, we had 12 jurors and two alternates and finished opening statements. The case was attempted murder with enhancements for active criminal street gang membership, shooting with a semiautomatic weapon and doing it for the benefit of the gang. It was exciting! The whole court process is so interesting and I felt very privileged to be serving. I would want someone like me on my jury - I am fair and caring. I knew that I could make a fair decision based off of the evidence.
For the next three days, I spent the day in court, staring right at the defendant (though a big, bad member of a gang, looked timid, weak, pale and kind of attractive to be honest. Being the only one who had a direct view of him at all times, I had a lot of time to see him less of a violent criminal enemy and more of a human who has made really bad choices in life and was now having to face the consequences for them. I am all for consequences. I believe God uses them to teach us, train us and refine us.
Then, after 4 days of the trial, we showed up and the defense counsel called out sick. We showed up Wednesday and the defense counsel called out sick again. The court called us Wednesday night to tell us that counsel would be out again on Thursday and to not go in. Friday, I was excited to get back to court. I really wanted to see the case all of the way through. Partially because I knew I would be fair in my verdict, but also because I really wanted to be a part of the whole system and learn about it firsthand. Well, the defense counsel called off again and the judge released us from the case. He will be re-tried in a few week with a new jury and probably a new public defender. I was very disappointed. Just for kicks, the jury (at this point in the testimony) would have voted not guilty on attempted murder, guilty for assault with a semi, and true for all of the gang enhancements. I think he was looking at around 15-20 years in state prison for it. I couldn't wait to google it and him...and I did. I love knowledge and facts. Plus, part of me wanted to know more about a man who was jumped into a gang at 12 years old. I really wanted to know more of his story.
I was grateful for all of the prayers I received for protection of my heart and mind as I went through the trial, but what I didn't expect was how I'd feel after it was over. After my internet research and some details I found out, including being married, I have really been struggling with this. My mind hasn't changed about his guilt, but I am broken over the fact that this man does not know Christ, or does but has chosen this criminal life to live. And, he has a wife waiting at home for him. My heart is really breaking over this and I am so glad that I don't have to make that judgement anymore. Tonight's service at church broke me over this and I am so grateful for a close friend and one of the pastors who were there to ask me how I was, be there when I lost it emotionally and pray with me. I don't know what to do with this brokenness. It is so unexpected.
What happened at church is to be continued tomorrow...