Four out of six staff writers in the news department will have the jury message line on speed dial during the month of February.
What are the odds? With the random process for jury duty, it seems the stars aligned in some bizarre fashion for this to occur.
I found out a few days after the new year that I was being summoned as a juror in the Umatilla County Circuit Court. My husband, John, came bounding up the stairs with an envelope in hand.
I didn’t even have to look at it. I knew.
I’m not the only one who doesn’t warmly embrace performing this civic duty. The Honorable Thomas Balmer, chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, acknowledges this fact.
“I know that jury service can be inconvenient but it’s an important and essential part of our democracy,” he said in a “Juror Experience Video.”
I must say, actually finding that video was grounds for serving the Umatilla & Morrow County Circuit Courts with “contempt of internet.” After clinking the link, I was greeted with the dreaded “404 Page Not Found” message.
With persistence, I finally found the video and watched the nearly 19-minute presentation. I’m not sure how long ago it was created, but they may want to consider updating it. Among those talking about the importance of jurors was Bernice Barnett, former Lincoln County district attorney, who hasn’t been in that role for more than a decade.
My husband and I have been summoned multiple times over the years. For a process that’s random, that seems odd — especially when numerous people tell me they’ve never served.
It’s not so much that I mind serving — if I actually got to sit in one of the 12 special seats. I’ve only been ushered into the courtroom on two occasions for the actual jury selection process.
However, I’ve had to drag myself out of bed on countless occasions and chug a sufficient amount of Pepsi in order to keep my eyes open — only to show up and be told the jury trial wasn’t happening. When I whined about that on Facebook, one of my old high school buddies responded.
“Thank you for your service! The jury system would not work without you,” wrote Martin Alvey.
As a trial lawyer, Martin knows first-hand how important the process is. And honestly, if I found myself in a courtroom, I would want people sitting in the jury box who took their responsibility seriously.
In August 2013, Judge Dan Hill expressed his gratitude for the jurors being there and being wiling to serve before excusing us. I appreciated that he took the time to come in to address us rather than sending in a court clerk to convey the message.
I truly do understand the importance of jury duty. In reality, it’s just a minor inconvenience. Considering all the rights and freedoms I have as a citizen of this country, the least I can do is be willing to perform this important civic duty.
Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4539.