What I Saw While Serving on a Grand Jury (Part One)

Community in Mission | 10/20/2019 | Staff
MandyixusMandyixus (Posted by) Level 3
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In early September, I was summoned to serve on a criminal grand jury here in Washington, D.C. through mid-October. It was difficult and emotionally draining work; I frequently wondered why the Lord would permit such a huge addition to my already overwhelming schedule. When I complained to Him, all I got back was that He wanted me to see something.

Many expressed their surprise that a priest would be compelled to serve. Frankly, as a clergyman, I fully expected to be dismissed. As I discovered, however, grand juries are quite different from petit juries, from which priests, religious, and other sorts of people who might sway fellow jurors are often dismissed. Very few occupations (e.g., active duty military personnel) are exempted from serving on a grand jury.

Morning - Time - Noon - Day - Trial

As that morning unfolded, I began to realize I wasn’t going to escape this time. By noon it became clear that I was going to have to serve not just for one day or one trial but every weekday for the next five weeks, from nine to five. Don’t expect to be called and told not to come in, they warned us, because there’s just too much work to be done; you’ll be reviewing evidence on over forty cases. I didn’t think it was possible for me to get any busier, but I just had. Twenty-three of us were sworn in and marched over to the grand jury room. Suddenly, my tightly scheduled calendar was thrown into complete disarray. My staff was shocked; they were bewildered by all the implications of a pastor being essentially unreachable every working day during normal business hours.

What is a grand jury? Grand juries are called “grand” because they are typically composed of more members than are petit juries. In our jurisdiction, a grand jury has 23 members, with 16...
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