I was called for jury duty this week. Having polled the 300 jurors-in-waiting for Fulton County Court, our judgement was unanimous: if the price of voting is jury duty, we need to demand better candidates.
It is a tradition to bitch and moan about being called to jury duty, but with almost no exception, those of us summoned, recognized that jury duty is a humbling honor. Plus, it is a once a year chance to be in a room for a day filled with your peers.
I was again reminded of how diverse our citizen peers truly are. Beautiful people of all shapes, shades, sizes and political persuasion. Admittedly, my peer group was from voter registration rolls and are made of those who are old enough and take their obligations as a citizen seriously enough to vote, receive their mailed summons and show up for jury duty dressed suitably for court. Try as they might, the jury room staff had a tough time with the pronunciation of my Asian-Georgian, Middle-Eastern-Georgian, and Hispanic-Georgian brethren – often generating some good-natured chuckles and almost always requiring the spelling of the names that were called to have them recognized and answered.
I struck up a conversation with a woman from North Fulton during the time between announcements. Roughly half of Fulton County is “outside the perimeter” in a land similar to Cobb County, which generates high ratings for talk radio, Republicans and handgun sales. We immediately found our common ground: we both had been summoned to jury duty (OK, and both middle-aged and a few pounds past our prime).
I baited her about the current governor’s race, and she offered, “Georgia needs someone who could get something done – not like that Roy Barnes.”
I asked her what she thought those important things were. She responded, “like standing up for states’ rights.”
After suggesting that I didn’t trust the important issues with anyone at the state level, but preferred to count on the US Senate to not do anything, I asked her how “states’ rights” was going to do anything about the $2-3+ billion projected short fall in Georgia for the next two years and if she thought any of the candidates could do something about it, she said, “we need just need someone who’ll cut some of the spending.”
I asked, “like cut teachers, police and the like?”
She said, “No, but we need someone strong enough to get spending under control – certainly not Roy Barnes.”
I asked, “How does getting things under control do anything about deficit or keeping our teachers and police on the job, and since, Roy Barnes is Democrat and the Georgia House and Senate are solidly Republican, wouldn’t that actually be a good thing since he couldn’t get anything done anyway?”
Before she could answer the juror announcements began again. “I am going to call some of you to report to courtroom 2B. When you hear your name, let me know you are here and come up and get your number. Then go down to the first floor, but wait in the hallway and do not go into the courtroom. It-sas-so, It-sa-zo, Are-o-yo, Ar-o-ho, Lopez? I, L, E, A, N…”
At which point, a shy and blushing woman who appeared to be of Hispanic descent, rose and walked to the front. I turned to my North Fulton friend, saw her smiling proudly in support of another American, a Georgian, who was being called to serve. We don’t have an immigrant problem – not in Fulton or North Fulton – we have some laws that need to be changed so that those immigrants here illegally, can become citizens and join us for jury duty.