Casting Judgement on Someone Else
I have previously written several blogs about jury duty. However, this one will be different because I, once again, was called for jury duty. This time, I actually sat on the jury and I was elected the foreman (or forewoman to be politically correct). The case lasted one day but I learned so much from this experience. If you have never sat on a jury before, it is quite an eye opener. You truly get to see the American Justice System in action.
The case involved a young man, who was being charged with an OVI and he wanted his day in court. He was given several sobriety tests, failing all of them, and he blamed the weather conditions. His lawyer argued that the high winds, the weather condition of that night, had caused him to fail these tests. The state highway troopers had enough probable cause to arrest him. We watched the video, provided by the camera in the patrol cruiser, and you can hear the defendant praying that he hoped he would pass the sobriety tests, which he did not.
What was even more suspicious was the fact that he did not take a breathalyzer test. He made the claim that those machines could not be trusted. He knew what he was being charged with and OVI but he did not take any steps to prove he was under the legal limit, which is what he claimed during the trial. For those of you that are not familiar with these situations an individual, who is being charged with a DUI or an OVI, can refuse a breathalyzer. However, they have the option to go to the hospital and request a blood test or urine test. The defendant chose not to do this.
The time came for us, the jury, to decide. As the jury, it was up to us to decide if the prosecution has provided sufficient evidence in this case. We had to look at all of the evidence presented in order to make the decision. Unanimously, we decided the defendant was guilty. The prosecutor did an excellent job of proving his case. We were bothered that the defendant took no means to prove his innocence other than obtaining a lawyer. Had he taken these steps the outcome of our decision could have been very different.
As jury members, we are given the opportunity to play an important role in the judicial system. However, that also means being given the opportunity to cast judgment on someone. We determine someone else’s fate. It is a time when we are legally given the right to judge someone else. Proverbs 31:9 says to “open your mouth, judge justly.” (NAB) This is what jurors are called to do. It is the jury’s decision on how they cast judgment, but that is not an entirely bad thing. Our guilty verdict provided the defendant with the opportunity to take the rehabilitation that was offered to him. This was not his first time being pulled over for an OVI suspicion but it was his first time being charged. The defendant is a young man who still has his whole life ahead of him. Getting help now will provide him with a better future. I like to think we, the jury, made a difference in his life.
The bible teaches us that it is not our place to judge our neighbors, especially if it is for the wrong reasons. However, there are times when it can help others. It is up to you to discern wisely.