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Lessons from the Jury Box

Weld County Courthouse where I served in a jury  trial.
The victim from my case walked right down this street
the night she was attacked.

It’s not often that I choose to watch shows like Dateline.  Usually, the true stories that are portrayed have enough trauma and/or horror that I avoid them.  Emotionally, I feel that I need to save my interest and compassion toward such stories for meeting with my clients.  Tonight was an exception.  Heath and I decided to have a night in.  We had defrosted a homemade lasagna and settled in to watch some “light” television. 

Even with tons of channels we still couldn’t find anything to watch and eventually landed on the Dateline story about a local case.  Having remembered the story from Denver news last year, we continued to watch.  The story was difficult and touching.  The murder and sexual assault case showed that eventually justice had been served but not without cost.  As the father of one victim stated of the second victim and her family, “We are related in tragedy.”

I felt connected in a rather unusual way.  Earlier this summer I served on a week-long jury trial for a sexual assault case.  It was difficult.  It was educational.  It was emotional.  But most of all, it was just. 
I learned a lot from serving on jury duty.  First, I was reminded that we live in a country in which the alleged is truly innocent until proven guilty.  We were required to listen to all the evidence before making a decision.   

I realized how contrary this is to our current American culture.  Most of us make a decision and then search for facts to prove our position on any given topic.  Staying neutral to hear both sides was actually a very freeing experience.  I hope to take that skill into other prayerful decisions in my life.

I also learned that I am incredibly proud of our legal system.  It is by no means perfect, but it is absolutely full of individuals who care deeply for justice.  I left this trial experience feeling proud and thankful for the police officers, paramedics, detectives, forensic scientists, doctors, nurses, attorneys, judges and countless others who work with victims on a daily basis.  They do their jobs to help others and we have much to thank them for. 

From this experience I was also reminded that I am continually thankful for my job as a counselor.  I sat front and center in the jury box, directly across from the witness stand.  There were so many times I wanted to give encouraging nods to the visibly anxious nurse, the thoughtful police officer, and especially the tearful victim.  I wanted to offer words of affirmation for their truth and their bravery.  I wanted them to know their story mattered and that their courage counted, for those are the things I get to do in the counseling room. 

I learned that as a counselor I am blessed.  I am blessed to hear the tears and the trauma.  I am blessed to offer a listening ear and an encouraging word.  I am blessed to be trusted with the deep places of the human heart.  I am blessed with the ability to offer hope.

I am blessed because I know that there is Someone much bigger than me who cares more deeply for each victim.  He cares infinitely more for every tear and every tragedy.  He cares so much that He is the one who will ultimately bring justice. 

I walked away from a week in the jury box feeling deeply encouraged and deeply indebted.  My heart had been burdened, yet I know that the Lord has set it free.  

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    Wonderful page, Stick to the great job. Thanks for your time.
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    Response: xovilichter ende
    Art & Soul Care - *It's Where I Begin Blog - Lessons from the Jury Box
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Reader Comments (2)

I think I watched the same dateline. In between commercials I worked on a paper that was due that night at midnight. Was it the case of the Denver girl who was murdered and buried in Eastern Colorado? The suspect had family in Ft. Collins and tried to murder another girl there by setting her apartment on fire. It was so touching to hear the victim talk after the whole experience. Unbelievable how she was able to find forgiveness in her deepest tragedy! And how the two families were "united in tragedy."

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDennisa Bumgardner

Yes, that was the episode! It caught my attention since it was a local story. I remembered it from the Denver news when it first happened. I had been planning to write a post about my jury duty from a month earlier, but never got around to it. Then watching this story brought up some of the thoughts and emotions I had experienced, so there came the blog!

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNichole Miller

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