About two weeks ago, I got summoned to report for jury duty. Some people don't get summoned until they're 60 plus years old (literally, there were retirees there talking about how this was their first time being summoned), but I got summoned back in October nearly as soon as I turned 18. Thanks to going to school an hour and a half away, I was able to get it postponed until June. So there I was, in the middle of June, on a day of leave from work for court duty, the youngest person in the room by a significant margin (there ended up being another few college kids within the mix, but the majority were much much older than me).
I never actually expected to get put on a jury, but fate would have it that I would somehow get selected to be a member of this criminal case jury. While I was nervous about the fact that I had to show up and listen to this case and make some fairly big decisions at a comparatively young age, I was very excited about the possibility of actually getting to participate in an actual trial. It's not very often that young people like myself get the opportunity to see first hand the judicial system from a jury point of view. You see juries on TV shows and in movies all of the time, but it's hard to actually picture what they're thinking and how they're dealing with the situation faced in front of them.
It was fascinating to sit from the jury box for about two and a half days listening to both sides of the case. I would look around the room every once in awhile and take in the experience surrounded by my peers. On the other hand, most people (including myself in the beginning) dread having to go to jury duty and take off work or show up and possibly be out of your normal routine for weeks or however long the trial will take. However, once I got thrown into the middle of the jury, it was interesting to perform my civic duty. I've been considering going to law school for a little while after I finish my undergraduate degree, so actually getting to sit in a courtroom and be completely immersed in a future career possibility was an awesome opportunity.
You never really see jury deliberations played out on TV, so I wasn't really sure what to expect with that aspect of the trial. However, it was the most important part of the trial. After over a week of having to be silent regarding all of my feelings about the case, I was finally able to openly discuss all of the details. Two hours later, the eleven other jurors and I came to a decision of guilty. It was hard to come to a decision about someone's future, but it's an important part of our justice system and a decision decided after much consideration of the evidence. If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend actually participating in your jury duty service and see what an amazing judicial process we have available to us.