CONTRIBUTED to SBINSIDER| November 2022
Because SaddleBrooke is populated by retired, well educated, registered to vote people, its residents are frequently in the pool for jury duty. When that envelope arrives, the natural reaction is “oh boy I don’t want to do this” as it might cut into the leisure activities we all enjoy in the greatest retirement community in all of the USA. Right? Or, worse yet, you might be late for prime time wine time in the afternoon. But as we are all responsible citizens, we take doing our part for a civilized well-functioning society seriously and our second thought is “I wonder if I can get out of this?”
Fear not! One of our abiding readers received her letter and she was kind enough to share her experience, albeit anonymously, for the benefit of the brotherhood and sisterhood:
My grand jury service was during the early COVID-19 shutdown. The protocol was a bit different. Everyone had to wear a mask or face shield, social distancing and we heard cases in a court room, not the grand jury room.
The first day is the selection process and excuse of those who had valid reason for not serving. Once that is complete a random pick of 20 jurors and two alternates is performed. You return the following week for oath of service and told of your responsibilities as a juror. There is a jury foreperson selected and foreperson alternate, along with a jury recorder and alternate. You are then assigned your Juror number.
It is a commitment for 4 months one day a week at the courthouse in Florence.
I found it interesting with the wide range of cases presented to us. From robbery, assault, drugs, molestation. The Judge presides over the hearings and the court recorder documents the cases being heard. The Pinal County Attorneys present the case summery and evidence; with Pinal County law enforcement officers and state troopers testifying. Once all evidence is presented and there are no more questions; the Judge, court recorder, and law enforcement leave the room so that only the Grand Jury is present. A discussion is conducted about the case. Is there enough evidence to bring the case to trial, or does law enforcement need more support. The Jury votes. Once that is done the Judge, court recorder and County Attorney are returned to the room and informed of the jury vote. If the case goes forward for trial, the judge assigns warrants and bail if needed.
- Some days were a full 8 hours. Others were only a few.
- Once you have served on a Grand Jury, you cannot be called again for two years. If you’re 75 years or older you won’t be called to service, unless you want to.
- Yes, the drive is long, but you are reimbursed for mileage.
- I can say that I was glad to have the opportunity to serve.