Do your duty

Last week I was called for jury duty, but unlike other times, I was chosen to serve. It was an interesting exercise in listening, thinking critically, and respectfully discussing ideas.

Our trial involved multiple robbery and battery charges, and we knew a young man’s life would be forever changed by our decisions. We also discussed our obligations to be respectful of the victims and what they had experienced.

We worked through the charges and reached agreement with the exception of two charges American justice seriesstemming from the same incident. The respect for those in the minority was palpable.

When we returned for our third day together and started anew, only two were in the minority. We suggested listening to some of the recorded testimony in hopes of resolving any reasonable doubt about the defendant’s innocence or guilt.

We sensed a unanimous decision as we filed back to deliberate. We acquitted the defendant because we found an accumulation of gaps in testimony, questions asked, and the evidence. Reasonable doubt does not mean those found innocent are not guilty. The obligation to reach a decision based only on the information we learned in the courtroom shaped and informed our verdicts.

What we also learned in our 2.5 days together, was in our busy-busy hurry up lives, we miss so many small details as we dash through the day, that can, if necessary, change lives forever.

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
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