Jay Clayton Wilson
Diane Korn got her jury summons. Many Brookies have received those special invitations to attend the courtroom at the Pinal County seat. Diane shared their angst at having her week interrupted by a trip to Florence and perhaps a lengthy trial.
It’s not like any of us have unused time on our hands. Diane, for instance, devotes almost 60 hours per week to volunteer activities including pet therapy, clogging rehearsal, swimming, pet rescue, pickleball, the Arizona Opera and a myriad of Unit 21 events. She and her therapy dog, Latke, drive several hours each week to and from children’s hospitals, care facilities, prisons and schools to provide comfort and entertainment to those less fortunate. Just about anywhere we witness people in need, we find devoted volunteers. Diane Korn wouldn’t be with them for a few days. Her life was interrupted. She had jury duty.
When she arrived in Florence and was seated with the panel of 100 prospective jurors it was doubtful that she would even be called. But she was called. Forty remaining prospective jurors faced the judge. Oh boy, here we go. This could take forever. Gary will have to feed Latke. What next?
The first ray of hope burst through when the judge personally conducted the voir dire examination of those 40 without the useful help of talkative lawyers. That alone made proceedings move more quickly than she expected. The judge and the judicial staff were surprisingly efficient and helpful at every turn. Better still, most of the prospective jurors looked as if they were not unhappy to be there. There was an air of anticipation. Diane, for her part, felt open minded, if somewhat inconvenienced. Lawyers asked a few questions and made their final decision. Fate played the last card. She was actually selected to serve on the jury.
The actual trial started. At that very moment dawned enlightenment.
Orderliness began to resolve from the misty vagueness of judicial proceedings as the state prosecutor gave the peoples’ account of the facts to be presented and the guilty verdict he said they should return. Next was a criminal defense attorney who stated the exculpatory facts he expected to prove from the defendant’s point of view. It was straightforward. The first witness was called to the stand and sworn in.
That is when Diane Korn began to appreciate the gravity of her calling and the extent of the civic responsibility that was her obligation to exercise. Suddenly she was confronted with the realization that a defendant’s freedom depended on a decision she was to make. Balanced against that were the rights of our society to be protected by law. Diane was up to her ears in the American Judicial System.
Indeed, Diane was completely overcome with a passionate pride that she had been chosen to participate in the most fundamental of all liberties under the rule of law. She was like an American combat soldier patriotically defending her nation. She was a juror.