The Aftermath

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Is "advocation" a word? If not, I'd like to officially make it one, because there's something I am ready to wholeheartedly support.

There are some things that present themselves to you in life that you don't even know about until the timing is just right, and I encountered one of those things yesterday.

I have always been able to read people's demeanor in a matter of seconds, and when my co-worker walked through the doors of our wonderful school yesterday, I immediately knew something wasn't okay.

Let's back-track just a bit. Two weeks earlier, I knew she had jury duty. At the time, I didn't think much of it at all. The next day as I was watching the morning news, I saw that a high profile trial was beginning and the jury had been seated. A couple of days after that, I realized there was a 99.9% chance my co-worker was sitting on this jury.

For the record, I got my second jury summons of my life in the mail on January 16th, and to say I was excited about it is an extreme understatement. In hindsight, I am so relieved that my jury summons is simply for municipal court.

The trial my coworker sat through was horrific and awful, and I will spare you from the details other than to say that the jury convicted the accused to six consecutive life sentences. I am sure you can aptly draw your own conclusions based solely on that.

Here are the big questions I have now. How do you prepare yourself, as a citizen proud to do your civic duty, for something like that? And possibly more importantly, how do you put the pieces of your life back into some sort of resemblance of normal after going through something like that?

Honestly, I don't think there are any easy answers.

The ability to read someone so quickly is truly a double-edged sword. On one hand, I instantly know if something is bothering someone; however, on the other hand, sometimes there are no words that I can offer someone in an effort to identify with them and or put them at ease.

After talking with her yesterday, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I know there are services for victims, but I wondered if there were also services for jurors who had just experienced a trauma of their own based on the evidence presented to them during a trial.

A quick Google search reaffirmed that the post-trial processing can be an extremely difficult time for jurors. After just a bit of research, it seems like legislation was proposed in 2012 to offer assistance to jurors for their traumatic experiences.

I don't know if this legislation was presented or whether or not it passed, but I do worry that if it is a piece of legislation, then it's possible only trials which meet a certain set of standards will will be eligible in offering jurors these services.

I also know that Travis County has a provision for post-trial juror support, but the provision lacks a source of funding.

This is gray area for me. I'm not really qualified to address it, but I am absolutely willing to advocate for it.

I would love to know what information you could share with me about post-trial juror support, what legislation might already be in place, and what we can do to further support people who abide by their civic duty, not knowing what the outcome might be.


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