Monday, January 25, 2010
And the verdict is...
So now I have done my civic duty twice within a week. Last Tuesday voting in the distinct minority--at least as far as Amherst and Cambridge are concerned--for Ted Kennedy's Senate replacement and today reporting for duty to the Superior Courthouse in Northampton for Jury duty.
There were about 60 of us crowded into a room that looks built to handle half that amount, with one older medium size color tv in a corner with somewhat lousy reception. We arrived at 8:00 AM and let go about two hours later.
Apparently the perp decided to plead guilty at the last moment, after 7 of 14 jurors had been selected last week and seven more would come from my group of 60. The judge told us that our willingness to serve could easily have set the stage for the last minute plea bargain.
Since the case concerned sexual assault and it would have taken seven days of trial, I'm relieved that I did not have to serve, although going through the process would have been interesting. Except of course, jurors can't read newspapers, watch TV news or use the Internet. Going cold turkey for a week would have been hard on this humble news junkie blogger.
Thus the system worked. And like country that created it, perhaps not perfect but certainly better than anything others may offer.
Which is why I defended the right of convicted terrorist Ray Levasseur to speak at the Umass Library symposium on those turbulent days gone by. The man paid his dues and did not forever surrender his rights as an American citizen.
And I also supported on the floor of Amherst Town Meeting the idea of allowing CLEARED Gitmo refugees to relocate to our little town. As long as the word cleared equates to innocent.
If we as Americans cherish our system of justice, then let it apply to all! Bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York City for a civilian trial. Let the justice system he tried to destroy demonstrate to the entire world why we cherish it so.
President Obama bows out of jury duty