I recently got to participate in the jury selection of a federal criminal case. With my diagnosis and the nature of my job, I probably could have gotten out of it pretty easily if I wanted to. However, I knew I probably would not get many other chances to experience this fascinating aspect of our society.
The rules for federal court are pretty crazy. The hardest one to adapt to was no electronics. I didn't think it would be so hard, until I had to walk to the courthouse from a parking deck about 5 minutes away. Even though it was a straight line, I could not help but think that at any moment I could be mugged or something else happen and I would not be able to inform anyone. Its crazy to think how accustomed to our phones we have become. Since I'm a millennial, I got to go through most of my young life without having that hooked to me. Yet I had this feeling the whole time that I needed it.
But I digress. Once in the building and past security. I finally arrived in the jury room. It was a pretty typically room for 40-50 people. It was kind of surreal, because almost no one talked and it just had this serious aura surrounding the room. We watched this movie about what we were supposed to do and what was expected of us during a trail. Once that was done, a good amount of people got to leave due to hardship reasons. We were now down to 35 people. We were then led to the actual courthouse room. Immediately, all eyes drew towards the defense table, and then the aura of seriousness intensified. I just kept thinking, that is the person I may have to pass judgement on.
The judge was so nice and calming towards us, since most jurors tend to be first timers. Then we went one by one introducing ourselves based on a question sheet provided to us. It felt like the first day of a class, where no matter how outgoing a person was they became shy and timid just giving out this basic information. What surprised me the most, was the diversity in education. It was like a bell curve, with majority of people not even having a bachelors degree. Then the real personal questions started.
These mainly included questions that would make us as a jury unable to be fair and impartial to judging in this case. This particular case was a robbery of a convenient store. Thus we were all asked questions pertaining to our relationship: to the exact chain of convenient store, to being robbed, to feeling of individuals robbing establishments, and etc. Only two were excused based on their answers after this round. We were then sent out of the court room into the hallway. As we are standing there, I kid you not, the guy I presume was working that night showed up looking for the courtroom in his employer branded shirt. I'm standing there like "this guys about to get this case thrown out". I made it my mission to stand on the opposite side of the hallway of this guy the whole time, since I did not want to become biased if this guy opened up his mouth and started talking about the incident. We then were called in, and I was not picked. Which was a little disappointing since I wanted to experience of being a jury during a case.
It was overall quite the experience that I am sure I could handle in the future if I was called upon again.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum