Summons for jury set off a flurry of worry

From our September 2016 issue

By Doris (Russell) Anderson – Grenfell, Sask.

Many years ago, I received a registered letter summoning me to jury service. I was instantly petrified! I’d received teacher’s training and it was often a challenge to deal with the complexities of children, let alone adults!

I was immediately mind-boggled. What was I to do? I had never been in a courtroom and my TV watching didn’t include that type of entertainment. I had no idea of the atmosphere. The more I thought, the more unnerved I became.

We lived on a farm and being it was early May, seeding was about to commence. My husband worked alone and so the three kids and I assumed all the extra chores at that time.

The children were preteen. They had their daily chores before and after school, but these did not involve making meals, school lunches. There was also the care of baby calves, pigs , chicks, and turkeys as part of my daily duties.

Law is the law

It was also garden planting time. Should I plant early? What about meals? Should I bake ahead, and make some casserole dishes etc.? We did have a freezer…

The more I thought, the more complicated things seemed to get. There were no family members available to help, nor was hired help easy to obtain.

But the law is the law and jury duty was an obligation one could not avoid without legitimate reason – and I seemed to not have even one.

We frequented the town of Melville often, the site of the hearing, but not in the locale of the courthouse. We drove around the city one day to find it and familiarize ourselves with its location. Still my mind was in a jumble.

As time went on, I worried as to my competence. Could I maintain an unbiased opinion when the trial began? If I had to stay over until the trial was finished, how would the family manage at home?

Disagreed with judge

The anticipation of what lay ahead seemed to gather momentum and I became increasingly a “basket case”.

Then, within a week of the set trial, I received another letter from the judge. It said the defendant had pleaded guilty and the trial was cancelled. I went limp with relief!

He also said he was sorry, as the experience was one that every one should have the opportunity to participate in. I did not agree!

Now whenever I see a trial on TV, I have nothing but abject sympathy for the jurors who have reported for duty. No one can know the sacrifices they have made to fulfill such on obligation.

Mine was only a domestic issue, not so intensely dealt with as others, but still an outcome that would have impacted both individual’s lives.

But life went on. The seeding was finished, the garden was planted, and the children’s lives went on, unaffected, and I was so glad there were no other domestic issues in our lives to contend with!

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