I spent this past week sitting on a jury in Kirkland, WA Municipal Court. Jury duty is part of life and is often viewed as an inconvenience and unwanted interruption to our busy lives.
I was no different once I received my jury summons notice a few weeks ago. "Good grief, do I really have time for this?" was my question.
I have been extremely busy with all that is amazing about starting a company (Nearstream), merging it with another company (LoopFuse) and now being the CEO of a fast-paced early stage company in a crazy marketplace. Customers, partners, prospects, and financing all are intertwined in my days.
I was curious about what kind of trial would be going on in the Kirkland municipal court and had prepared myself for some type of random misdemeanor or traffic violation based on this description of what this court hears: "criminal misdemeanor cases and processes all non-criminal traffic citations and parking citations for violations occurring within the city limits of Kirkland."
I showed up dutifully at the assigned time, filled out my form, and answered the questions posed by the prosecutor and defense counsel truthfully and honestly.
There were several times I could have disqualified myself even by claiming publicly that I could not be "unbiased" in my judgement. The only problem with that is that is not the kind of person I am and aspire to be.
Potential jurors were dismissed or disqualified for a variety reasons and it looked as if I was going to dodge the proverbial bullet...until a final seated juror decided she couldn't possibly be unbiased. With that assertion, I was welcomed to the jury box.
I was actually very impressed with the judge, court staff and lawyers involved as well as my fellow jurors in their thoughtfulness and professionalism.
The case was very different than my expectation shining a bright light on a troubled family and abusive relationship between husband and wife. I was not prepared to see children testify against their father but that is what I got. Apparently the charges fit in the "criminal misdemeanor" category.
Two days, several witnesses, lots of time in the jury room waiting on the next step and we finally were sent to our room to pass judgement.
This was my first time on a jury and being in this role was both odd and invigorating. Above all else, we must come to a conclusion of "guilty" or "not guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence presented.
There were four charges and we all agreed to our conclusions rather swiftly but did challenge each other, our assumptions, and the evidence presented thoughtfully.
I won't get into the final outcome but just like that we returned to the court, presented our verdict, and were dismissed to go on about our lives - a loaded up email inbox, voicemails, and customer needs in my case.
It was an important thing to do and made be treasure and appreciate all that I have in life that much more. I pray for the family involved and hope that this step in the process helps them towards some type of peace.
Hug your children, kiss your spouse or significant other, pet your dog (or cat) if you have one, and take the obligation of jury duty seriously as you are being asked to sit in judgement of another and that is not to be taken lightly.