For the last nine weekdays, I’ve been driving back and forth between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, with the result that my trusty Toyota is now way overdue for an oil change AND sports a lovely crack in her windshield.
The reason? Jury duty.
I got summoned to show up on June 6 at the U.S. District Courthouse in Santa Fe. There were a LOT of potential jurors, but at the end of the day, my name was called. The judge had told us that the trial could take up to two weeks, so my reaction was admittedly…lukewarm. But who am I to argue with justice?
I won’t go into the details of the case (that would result in a longer post than anyone wants to read), but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised. What I thought would be drudgery turned out to be an educational, stimulating, and downright refreshing experience.
Let me start with my fellow jurors. Lawyers in any trial aim to get jurors who represent all walks of life, and I think they accomplished that beautifully here. I have rarely been in the company of such kind, intelligent, diverse people. The chemistry was fantastic; I felt like I could be myself, unrestrained, with these folks. I can sincerely say that I’ll miss hanging out with them.
And having to go to Santa Fe every day? WORTH the miles on my car. WORTH the cracked windshield. It feels like that town and I progressed from casual acquaintances to friends. I wandered around on lunch breaks, just looking at things and people. I sat on a bench in the middle of the Plaza, reading a book while a jazz musician scatted nearby. The weather was BEAUTIFUL. I bought a macaroon from a coffee shop to munch as I strolled; it was so good that I had to stop walking to eat it.
Speaking of delicious food, thank you to the following restaurants for your excellent service and equally excellent meals:
- The Plaza Cafe
- The French Pastry Shop
- Santa Fe Espresso Company
- Tia Sophia’s
- The Shed
- Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen
My taste buds do a little dance just writing that list!
Lastly, a little about jury duty in general: Yes, it’s inconvenient. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, some parts are confusing and frustrating.
But: it’s also worth it. It’s a crucial aspect of the U.S. judicial system. It, frankly, is an honor (and a hefty responsibility, no matter the nature of the trial). It’s also a wonderful education.
And yes. It can (gasp!) be fun.
So, U.S. District Court: thank you.
And to all of my readers who get chosen to serve on a jury: relish every bit of it. You’re kind of a big deal.