A couple weeks ago I served on a jury. It was an interesting experience. And it was also kind of fun. I had heard it’s not common to actually be selected to sit on the jury, so I was hopeful. It was so inconvenient for Bryan; he worked from home and took care of the kids while he worked. The trial ended up going for two days.

They said we could discuss the trial after we delivered a verdict, so I can tell you it was about drunk driving. Before the jury was selected, the lawyers took hours explaining people are innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution. They have no responsibility to prove their innocence. If the prosecution doesn’t do a good job of proving guilt, and I still have doubts that they are guilty, (reasonable doubts, that is, not imaginary) I have to find them not guilty.

There was one woman who was very clear that she hated drunk driving, and she could never presume the defendant was innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. She said she would find him guilty no matter what, since he was involved in alcohol at all.

One of the jurors knew the defense lawyer. He was a really good OVI lawyer (now in Ohio it’s called Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated, or OVI.) At first glance you call him a terrible human, because he prevents drunk drivers from being punished and thus making it more likely they will do it again. But he was clear on his stance. He asked everyone, “Who here is pro-drunk driving? No one. It’s a really stupid thing to do.” He wasn’t defending the practice of drunk driving, he was just making sure that everyone gets a fair trial. He’s just keeping the police and prosecutors honest and protecting a few people who truly are wrongly accused. And the lawyer happened to get paid a lot of money for doing it, because he was good at what he does, and gets a lot of people off. There were jokes that he had the nice suit and the cuff links, while the prosecution for the state didn’t.

The lawyer asked the group a few legal questions, and I answered some of them. He told me in front of everyone, “You’re good at this! You’re my lawyer friend.” He certainly had other motivations to get me to like him, but I still felt awesome to be complimented for intelligence in front of forty other adults.

The jury was a really random sample of people. A firefighter, a social worker, a fishing store owner, a doctor, some others, and me. There was one older man who wasn’t eating during one of the breaks, because he couldn’t. I offered him my lunch (because they provided a better one) thinking it was a gluten or allergy thing and their sub sandwiches and chips were the problem. He declined, but he also nominated me to be foreman later. :)

So I led the discussion and filled out the verdict. It was strange. We were just ordinary people, but we were the final decision on the guilt or innocence of a real human being. And I said “guilty” on this day of 1 April. A terrible day to be sentenced.

The lawyers talked to us later and said that he would get a minimal punishment but mostly help overcoming his alcohol problem, since this had happened many times before.

I learned from this that I might enjoy the intellectual challenge of being a lawyer–but I’m not sure I would enjoy the intellectual challenge for eighty hours a week.