Reflections on Jury Duty and Civic Obligations

September 26, 2019 by Suzanne Judd, LHC Director


Jury DutyA few weeks ago, I had that wonderful American privilege of being selected for jury duty to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama.  I say “wonderful” tongue-in-cheek since, like most of the people I was chatting with in the Jury Assembly Room, I had no desire to be there.  Parking was a nightmare.  They simply don’t have enough spots for the 400 jurors that were summoned to downtown Birmingham for the shot at being selected to sit on a jury.  This was my second time in three months coming on a Monday morning to wait to see if I would be selected for a jury.  Three months prior, I was dismissed because I had not lived in Jefferson County continuously for a year due to a six-month commitment in France. The disqualification didn’t make sense to me.  Luckily, I was back 90 days later to try again.  And this time, it was even better because Law & Order was on the television to keep me entertained while waiting.  No lie!

Before jury selection began, we sat through a 30-minute explanation of what a great honor it is to be selected as a juror.  The judge described how unique we are as Americans to be allowed to serve as jurors.  In most countries, citizens do not decide the fate of other citizens.  He described the jury selection process in Alabama, which is basically tied to being a registered voter.  Really?  Given all we know about voter suppression in Alabama, one can only assume the same factors affect the juror selection process.  This was a fact that was tough for this former Michigander to digest since Michigan uses driver’s license lists to generate juror pools.