Just my Thoughts

Civic Duty

I do believe that to be an active member of our society, we need to participate.  I am not saying that every person should run for public office.  That participation is truly not for everyone.  I am about to participate in a new form of civic duty starting this morning.

I have received a Grand Jury summons.  While Grand Jury was a common part of the judicial process in earlier times, they are almost unheard of now outside of the United States.  In the US, there are grand juries at both the Federal and State level.  Since I am not going to the Federal building, I am not being summoned to a Federal Grand Jury.  New York is one of seven states where counties have grand juries.  I was summoned to Broome County grand jury.

The thought behind a grand jury is that of checks and balances.  A district attorney or assistant district attorney must show the grand jury that there is enough evidence to try a case.  While I can tell you that I have been summoned to serve on a grand jury, the proceedings of a grand jury are secret.  Even the lawyers are not there should witnesses be compelled to testify.

Now, I will not attempt to shirk my civic duty and try to get out of this duty.  I will show up.  My biggest problem is that if chosen, the summons indicates all week this week and on a call-in basis on Tuesdays and Fridays for the following three weeks.  This is not a quick and easy item.  A significant commitment must be made.

I will let you know by how much I am posting the next week whether I have been chosen or not.  Nothing else I can do about it but hope that everything works out for me.  I have canceled, just in case, all my business appointments.  I have an event I was suppose to go to this coming weekend on hold until I know as the drive will be too much if I am in a grand jury until 5 pm on Friday.  I have a race I want to run that I am truly holding off my commitment until after I know  if I am on the grand jury or not.  I am fairly certain I do not want to do a 10 mile hill race if I cannot run my hills during the week.

8 thoughts on “Civic Duty

  1. It’s tough to have to make a new commitment after you’ve already made a previous commitment. I’ve never served on a grand jury but the one time I served on a jury, I was in my early 20s with no responsibility but to myself. Oddly, I kind of loved it.

    1. Believe it or not, I have never served on a jury before. I was summoned before but the case settled/plea bargained before the trial started. I do find it fascinating.

  2. Good for you, Nicki. I think it’s just awful how so many people automatically try to get out of jury duty. Where exactly would that leave our whole system of jurisprudence if juries were only made up of people with nothing else to do? It’s a responsibility of a democracy.

    1. Linda – No idea how many people may have postponed via the internet but you have to choose the next time when you do. Even those who went up and spoke with the judge yesterday had to give a time they were going to be able to serve.

  3. Nicki, I think this is awesome because it sends a great message to me and your kids. Civic duty is something we should all be mindful of. If only we could all remember the times when being on a jury was not something everyone could do.

    1. That is true, Amber. One of the big points that a video everyone had to watch made was that the NYS court system has made accessibility to juries more open in past years – no automatic exemptions based on occupation, etc.

  4. I’ve served once and it was a fascinating experience. If you’re chosen I’m sure it will generate LOTS of good post material!

    1. Well, there were, after excuses, 27 of us. A grand jury consists of 23. They played BINGO – a little bin with all the names in it was spun around and four names drawn out one at a time – to decide who got to leave and who stayed. I am on it for the next four weeks. The people watching yesterday was a lot of fun.

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