I don’t have a lengthy bucket list.
My final bucket-list destination is Australia. Haven’t been there, but my wife and I intend to make the journey — possibly sooner rather than later.
The to-do bucket list used to include things such as jumping out an airplane or bungee jumping off the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. They’re off the list now.
I do, though, want to serve on a trial jury. Sadly, I believe that bucket list desire also is fading away. You likely won’t see my backside planted in a seat such as one of those pictured with this blog post.
We returned this weekend from a trip to South Texas and I had a jury summons from Randall County, Texas, waiting for me. I was to report this morning, except that when I called Tuesday night the recorded voice told me they didn’t need any jurors and that we were excused until we got summoned the next time.
This has been the story of my jury-duty life for decades now. I get the summons and then am told to forget about it. Once, not long after we moved to Amarillo in 1995, I did get a summons and was told to report. I did. We sat around for most of the morning and then the judge came out and told us the cases had all been settled. He thanked us for our time and then we left.
I might have cooked my own bucket-list goose, though, by accepting an appointment more than a decade ago to serve on a Randall County grand jury. These are the folks who are appointed by a state district judge and then told to report one day each week for three months. That’s where we heard criminal complaints and decided whether to indict or “no-bill” a suspect in a criminal case.
It was one of the most fascinating public service duties imaginable. I learned a great deal about my community. The most glaring thing I learned is that Randall County is chock full of people who do terrible things to other people, namely children. Many of the complaints we heard — and the detail supplied by assistant district attorneys — sickened us to our core.
However, I remember quite vividly something that District Attorney James Farren told us after we had taken the oath to serve. It was that if we had any thought of ever getting picked for a trial jury that we’d might as well forget it. No criminal defense counsel would allow us to serve on a trial jury knowing that we had served on a grand jury. Such service, I was led to believe, marked us as “biased” against a defendant.
Heck, knowing that I’d settle just for making the first cut and then getting struck during juror selection.
Alas, it’s possible that won’t happen, either.
I am not seeking the big bucks. Texas doesn’t pay its trial jurors a lot of money; for that matter, we didn’t get paid much for our service on the grand jury, either.
Whatever the case, I’ll keep answering the summonses when they arrive. My hope, while fading, isn’t yet dead.