Janelle's Blog

The Wrong Side of the Law-Freedom in the U.S.A.

The Fourth of July

I opened the front door of my house this evening to the sound of fireworks. The sky was filled with brilliant reds and greens exploding above the neighbor’s rooftop. I had a perfect view of sizzling gold and silver rising fountains of sparkling lights, interrupted by offshoots of color trailing across the sky and spiraling downward. At the end of a hot, Texas afternoon a cool breeze fluttered across my face as I felt the cool grass beneath my bare feet. Patriotism arose within me as I thought, I’m proud to be an American.

Not so Patriotic at Jury Duty

 Only weeks before I had been called to jury duty, something I seemed to avoid for years by either moving or missing the lottery of names drawn. This time I had no choice but to serve my duty. Like most people, I tried to think of a dozen ways to avoid getting chosen once I arrived at the courthouse. Maybe I should be too opinionated, or wear bright, colored clothes, I thought.

A couple of hundred people in the waiting room of the courthouse awaited the verdict of whether or not they would be chosen for several cases. As names were called out by the court employee, I averted eye contact, as though that would keep me from being called.

“Janelle Hail,” there it was. I was selected to appear the next day in court to get my assignment.

Duty Called

I arrived the next morning before 8:10, the designated time of arrival, and shuffled through the basic routine of my group again waiting to be called into the courtroom. I was told the first ten usually are chosen for jury in a group at least double that size. I was number eight.

When we filed into the courtroom, I sat down almost directly in front of the defendant. He was an overweight man in his early 40’s with brown shaggy hair and a worried-sick look on his face. He was being tried for drunken driving.

While I sat there, I thought of a few more skillful ways to dodge being chosen for the jury. When a couple of questions were fielded my way, I sidetracked the attorney with my comments carefully planned to get me out of jury duty. Yes, I did get dismissed and was on my way by 10:30 that morning.

On my way out of the courtroom, I looked over my shoulder at the jurors who were filing into the jury box, then one last glance at the defendant.

Maybe I wasn’t so smart after all, I thought. This wasn’t a game. A man’s life was in the hands of the jurors. They would decide his fate over the next few days.

I left the courtroom feeling that I had short-changed myself. I’m an American with the freedom to vote, to live my life as I choose. I have been educated and trained to use my skills for the good of mankind. This time an opportunity had slipped through my fingers. I had the capability of giving that man a fair judgment, but chose to think only of my own needs and desires.

Focusing on Others

As breast cancer survivors, we can get so wrapped up within ourselves and our current issues that we lose sight of those around us. We sometimes feel we don’t have time to think of others because our needs are too overwhelming. Doing some good for others should not be good enough. What if we try to be good to others all the time? Our lives would be enriched and would overflow on others like the showering of fireworks I watched tonight. There was a simple elegance in those fireworks. They were stunning to watch. Who’s watching you?

Thought for Today:

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner

Live Life,

Janelle

Reader's Comments

One Response to The Wrong Side of the Law-Freedom in the U.S.A.
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    July 22, 2013 | 8:22 pm

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