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  • Writer's pictureSierra Shipton

Trial By Jury

Updated: Sep 16, 2017

Sometimes, it’s funny the things God uses to teach us lessons in life. Who knew that I would have my own trial by jury when I showed up for jury duty?

My third niece, my brother’s firstborn, was born on Monday. When I got a summons last month to appear for jury duty 9/12-9/15, I had no idea that the baby would be born on 9/11 (she wasn’t due until 9/25) or that my parents would be going to meet her on 9/12, while I was headed for my first day of jury duty. Needless to say, I was bummed.

When it was my turn to sign in, the jury commissioner asked me if I wanted to be excused or if I wanted to try to serve. He thought it might be difficult for me to get around the courtroom if I was selected for a jury but said I could go up and see what I thought before deciding. It took everything I had not to say “Yes, I want to be excused.” I wanted to see my niece, not spend my day in a courtroom. But I went upstairs to join the other prospective jurors.

About 10 minutes later, I found myself talking to the court administrator. As the jury commissioner had, he asked me if I wanted to be excused. He said, “If you think it’s going to be too much of a difficulty for you, I have no problem excusing you.” Again, I wanted to say “Yes, I want to be excused,” but something held me back. Instead, I heard myself asking if I would have to get out of my wheelchair if I were to be on a jury.

He said he didn’t think so, and that the only difficulty he could see was that the jury box was on a platform but that they had a wooden ramp they could put down to allow me access. He said the decision was up to me. I was conflicted. What kind of person was I going to be in this situation? One who took the easy way out? Or one who did what they knew was right?

When the court administrator said, “It’s a question of whether you think it will be too much of a burden or if you think you are able to do what we’re asking you and hear a case,” I knew that I had my answer.

If there were no physical reasons I couldn’t sit on a jury, I had to stay and do my civic duty. Cerebral Palsy is as different as each person that has it. In my case, I have my mental faculties and knew that I could hear a case. I couldn’t use my wheelchair as an automatic excuse, even though I was being given that option.

I stand in front of the greatest judge of all, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and He had a purpose for this experience, to test my character. No one jumps for joy when a summons arrives in the mail. Everyone there that day wanted to be somewhere else. Even though I was given that option, I’m glad I didn’t take it.

I want to be known for my integrity. For, Proverbs 10:9 ESV says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” If I had asked to be excused because I couldn’t do what was asked or it was too much of a burden, it wouldn’t have been the truth.

While I wasn’t selected for a jury and my service as a juror finished yesterday after all the cases set for trial resolved themselves, I still heard a case. My own. I was a witness to my own character when I chose to “tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help [me] God.”

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