I ran up the marble steps of the courthouse. I only had 3 minutes to go through the metal detector and climb three flights of stairs. Oh, how I hate to be late. I could take the elevator, yes, but I have proven faster than the elevator the last two days.
I hurriedly ran into the courtroom and again climbed the steps to my seat in the jury box. Seat one, I had been the first one confirmed to have been selected to serve on this jury. Now we had heard two days of testimony and were starting our third.
I sat down and tried to catch my breath as my heart thumped within my chest. I had made it on time, right on time by the skin of my teeth.
When I was asked to serve as a juror, I took it seriously, and I prayed about it. I prayed for discernment and for me to be placed on the particular cases God wanted me to be on. Each day I prayed before I got out of my car to go into the courtroom. Today I sat in the jury box praying silently, but I didn’t take one bit of the responsibility lightly.
I must be honest, I didn’t like having the responsibility. I don’t like to judge people, albeit it is based on evidence. I don’t like to be the one who takes another’s freedom away, despite apparent guilt. Still, it must be done and far be it from me to be the one to prevent justice.
We heard from the final witness, then closing arguments and began deliberation. God had answered my prayer for discernment, but not everyone in that room was given discernment or maybe they were just struggling with the responsibility as I had been. I had gotten past the stated struggle as I walked past the parents of the victim on my way out of the courtroom. I looked at the sadness in their eyes at the loss of their son and right then, at that moment, I promised myself I would do right by them to the best of my ability.
His life had value. They watched him take his first steps, heard his first words, and by all rights, should have never had to bury him. Yet there they stood with heartbreak all over their faces, and I looked them in the eye as if to say ‘I see your pain.’
Granted, had the guilt of the accused not been apparent I would’ve never felt moved to take the oath within my own heart, but because it was I was moved to step into their shoes for a moment.
It was a long three days, and I realize it could’ve been far worse, but I can honestly say I will never be the same and I will take my lessons from it : Certainly, I will be more careful of the company I keep, I will be more aware of things going on around me and the people I care about, and lastly I cannot, will not ever take the legal justice system or our freedoms for granted. As much value as I placed on it before Monday, I now value human life more than ever.
God stands alone holding the keys to life and death. There is no man who shares in this responsibility no nor should they, for their value or disregard for it revolves around their unique respect, or lack thereof, for it.