An Atheist serves on a Juryby Don Lacey on Aug. 20, 2013, under Atheism, Critical Thinking, Government, Reason, That's Life!
On the 14th of August, I served on a Jury in the City of Tucson criminal court. My number came up and I had to report to the county courthouse for my bi-annual civic responsibility. The original report date was the in the week prior but I needed to reschedule because I was out of town…way out of town in North Dakota. I was rescheduled for the 13th of August at 7:30 AM. 7:30 AM! Normally, I’m not usually up at 7:30 AM. So that meant a 5:30 AM wake up. They were specific—NO SHORTS so a nice pair of long cargo pants combined with a nice collared black polo shirt was selected, very professional! The outfit was completed with black polo shirt with a red embroidered American Atheists logo on the left breast. There was a chance that a defense or prosecution attorney may see the shirt and reject me as a juror. As the Arizona State Director of American Atheists I felt that wearing the shirt was the right thing to do in any case. As it turned out, it really didn’t make a difference.
Jury duty starts out with prospective jurors gathering in a room and filling out paperwork. Some are then selected to go to other courts. Twenty of us were sent to the City of Tucson about 3 blocks from the county courthouse. The paperwork followed us there and some the wait we experienced allowed the defense, the prosecution, and perhaps the judge to look over what we had written in order to help with the jury selection process. Out of the twenty they had the task of selecting six to sit on the jury. The wait was short and we were then placed in the courtroom and introduced to the judge, the prosecutors, and the defendant. We introduced ourselves and answered a few general questions after which we were sent out and brought back one at a time for individual questions. Out of the 20, 12 were questioned. We then returned to the courtroom and six were selected to serve on the jury. In spite of my “American Atheist” shirt, I was selected to serve.
The case involved a young man caught in the act of shop lifting, filmed by the store’s inventory protection personnel and cited by the Tucson Police wanted to exercise his constitutional right to a jury of his peers. Luckily, the case was very short and our service was completed on the same day.
It was an interesting day.