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majority wins -- really?

For four weeks, we’d been doing this jury duty thing, showing up for court, listening, taking notes, thinking. Then during breaks, we talked about anything but the case, chatted about movies, our friends, other news, our commutes in. Now we had to do our first official thing as a jury. We had to decide when we’d start deliberations. Sounded simple enough. It was up to us but we had to let the court know because the judge required the attorneys to be within 15 minutes of the courtroom while we were deliberating in case we had a question.

The day was Wednesday. We’d just left court and the nine of us were standing around the table in the jury room ready to leave for the day once this was done. We could either continue tomorrow, Thursday afternoon, after closing arguments, or start Friday morning. Given that our original schedule had afternoons after one o’clock free and we all typically went back to work, one juror, Pam, already had meetings booked Thursday afternoon. She said meeting Thursday with us wasn’t an option for her. But group momentum pushed a vote to see what the majority wanted.

At first, I thought this was rude if one of the choices wasn’t even an option. But I went along with it thinking if the majority wants Friday, then the problem was solved. I voted for myself, which was for starting Thursday afternoon. Turns out that was what the majority wanted. So everyone started walking out the door.

“Hey, you can’t do that,” I couldn’t hold back now. And Pam started talking as well. I was blown away by this calm jury I’d been with for 4 weeks in this court of law that had exhibited all sorts of examples of where majority vote was not the rule – and how even our verdict had to be unanimous – and now for this group to just assume majority ruled and walk away? How could this happen?

There was so much chaos we didn’t really discuss this. It was a free-for-all. Finally, Alan, one of the strong pushers for majority rule, questioned Pam, more like interrogated her. He backed off but reluctantly. Alan and the other strong supporter of majority rule, Becki, felt that their argument of trying to get back to work sooner by a half day on the backend -- even though exactly which half day they gained wasn't known because the length of our deliberations was undetermined at that time -- was more important than someone who’d already booked meetings till 2am tomorrow. I thought that was ludicrous but I didn’t say so.

End result, we started Friday morning. But my guard went way up after that. The next day Alan sarcastically called me “Sunshine,” trying to break down my guard but I’m sure he just thought he was trying to be friendly, and Becki asked me if anything was wrong. I wasn’t going to bring it up if they weren’t going to mention it explicitly but I would’ve said, yes, I’m protecting myself from you now.

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