Pharos-Tribune

December 27, 2013

FREY: Willing, ready and able to be a juror


Pharos-Tribune

---- — One of the things on my bucket list is to serve as a juror.

So far, I haven’t had much luck.

In my immediate family alone, my husband, Dan, has been a juror. And now, much to my chagrin, my daughter, Bernadette, received just today the juror qualification form for Clinton Circuit Court.

Why is it that the people who want no part of sitting on a jury are always sent the letter and those who want to sit on a jury never receive the letter?

Inquiring minds want to know.

My husband, much to his disdain, did not want to be a juror, but was selected.

Bernadette, as it turns out, cringes at the thought of sitting in an oblong box with 11 other people, strangers I might add, deciding the fate of a felon.

I, on the other hand, am chomping at the bit to be part of the process that was put into place in the Magna Carta and from which the term “a jury of peers” stems.

Again, no such luck.

There are many ways in which to disqualify yourself based on the response to the questions on the qualification form.

For instance, question No. 17 reads: “Do you have any uncorrected defects of sight or hearing which prevents you from reading ordinary newsprint or hearing ordinary conversation?”

If I did not want to be a juror, I would write something like, “Yes, I have many uncorrected defects such as eye lash sensitivity and judge’s gavel syndrome.”

But I want to be a juror.

Question No. 23 reads: “Do you know of any reason, other than inconvenience, why you cannot serve as a juror?”

If I did not want to be a juror, I would write something like “Why yes, I am gainfully employed making $42,000 a week and have 12 children and four standard poodles living at home.”

But I want to be a juror.

As a recent college graduate who was hired in August at Clinton Central Elementary School and who now has a monthly car payment, it would appear that Bernadette might not be the perfect candidate to sit on a jury with her peers.

I, on the other hand, have been a stay-at-home mom since 1989, the year I left my full-time position in the editorial department at the Pharos-Tribune to raise my daughter.

Would I not make a good candidate for the juror’s box?

My time is my own. I work from my computer room. I am a good listener. I take good notes. I am a Sunday school teacher. I am a good cook and baker, and would, on occasion, make batches of Irish stew and shortbread cookies, respectively, for my newly acquired juror friends.

Again, no such luck.

The last line of the juror qualification form states the following: “Thank you for your cooperation and willingness to perform your public service and preserve our constitutional guarantees.”

I would be happy to preserve our constitutional guarantees if given the chance.

Instead, I will more than likely wait year after year after year for that letter in the long, white envelope from the Clinton County Courthouse to appear in my mailbox.

And of course, to no avail.

Meanwhile, Bernadette will more than likely be chosen, as was my husband, to rewrite the course of a person’s life and keep democracy alive.

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at alewisfrey@aol.com.