The Truth About Sitting On A Jury

The Truth About Sitting On A Jury

A first hand look at this Civic Duty
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels / Unsplash

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A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
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I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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