Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jury Duty in Concord

We'll take a detour from real estate and technology today to mention my experience yesterday when I was called for jury duty at the Concord District Court.  Before becoming register of deeds I used to make frequent trips to that court to represent clients in probate proceedings, usually divorces.  It was always a busy session with no lack of cases which made it all the more surprising when I learned yesterday that the probate session had been closed for some time due to an insufficient number of employees left at the registry of probate after budget cuts to staff a full time satellite session like the one that had existed in Concord.

The District Court is open for business and the court when compared to the much older facilities in Lowell still seemed to be in good shape.  The loudspeaker system in the courtroom was broken, however, which made it difficult to hear some of the witnesses.  Everyone on the courthouse staff - security guards, court officers, clerks and the judge - all were professional and prompt in all their interactions with jurors.

I ended up in seat three on the jury and remained there through empanelment.  The case involved possession of illegal drugs but while there was some evidence of drugs (residue of cocaine) there wasn't any evidence linking the defendant to the drugs and so the judge granted the defense attorney's motion for a required finding of not guilty at the close of the prosecution's case.  That brought the trial to an immediate conclusion and our services as jurors were no longer needed.

In the orientation video that everyone watches (which is new since I last was called for jury duty three years ago), the narrator quotes John Adams as saying that voting and serving on juries are the heart and lungs of a democracy.  As inconvenient as it may be to drop out of your daily routine to participate in jury duty, it is an important service.  After my experience yesterday, I can also attest that it is a rewarding experience as well. 

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