by Michael Harney –
For those who are lucky enough to receive a summons to jury duty, it is not as bad as others claim it to be—at least here in Buncombe County.
Recently I was given the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty—“service,” we were told—and went through the process right up to the point where one is—or isn’t—chosen to sit on a jury in a civil trial. Ultimately, and sadly, I was not chosen as a juror.
We were welcomed by the Jury Clerk, Diane, who made us feel at home while she explained the principles of what a juror should expect, what the judge should expect from us, and the next steps in the trial process. We watched a short educational film about how courts in North Carolina operate at different levels: the Magistrate, District Courts, Superior Courts, all the way to the Appellate Courts. Then, we all were either sworn in with a hand on a Bible, or solemnly affirmed to the court to provide this service as a juror.
A bit of history about oaths and affirmations may be found at northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/affirmations, and www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/statutes/pdf/bychapter/chapter_11.pdf
Citizens who hold a North Carolina driver’s license, or are registered voters, are eligible to receive a summons to serve on a jury. So either go out and get your driver’s license right away, or make sure you are a registered voter TODAY! (There are plenty of others reasons to register and vote, but we can get into that discussion at another time.)
The presiding judge explained the process of the case before it began, and thanked us from his heart for being there that day, as we were important citizens who might someday also want a jury if we were ever involved in a trial.
It may sound corny, but I would go back through that process any day of the week, and more than that, the $12 check is in the mail. I’ll take it! Hope you get the opportunity too!