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Civic Duty and all that

The jury summons arrived around Xmas time. Report for selection on January 3, it stated. It did not, however, state what kind of impact this trial would have on me.

I'd only ever been summoned when I was away at college, so this was my first chance to serve. Maybe I'm weird but I looked forward to it. The process and procedure of law can be fascinating.

I just so happened to be picked for a murder re-trial. A man named Mark Jensen poisoned his wife with antifreeze back in 1998. I vaguely remembered hearing about this case the first time it went to trial but didn't realize it was the same defendant. My thought: 'Wait, didn't this already happen to someone about a decade ago? There's another guy out there?'

The judge prepared us jurors with the warning that it could be 4-5 weeks' service, which dropped out many prospects. He ended up being close.

What he didn't warn us about: Spending four weeks, every day all day, with the same 16 people creates this unique atmosphere. At the end of it you're not strangers, you know about everyone, but you don't know them well. It's an odd dichotomy that most people will never encounter. Almost like The Breakfast Club.

And boom, there is my next book. As the trial wound down, I made a promise to my fellow jurors that we'd all get back together in one year to celebrate our verdict and at that time I'd have a book for them.

So now the clock is ticking. Working title: The Breakfast Jury.


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