I Can Keep A Secret (If You Ask Me To)

Here’s a little known fact about me: if you tell me something, I’ll probably broadcast it to the world (especially if it involves a childhood experiment of sticking a banana up your ass). However, if you tell me something in confidence, and explicitly state that I am not to repeat it, I can be as closed-mouth as a clam. I’ve done this with certain pregnancies (not mine) and surprise parties. That said, when I found out I had jury duty a few weeks ago, I was, initially, broadcasting it to the world.

I put up sarcastic FaceBook posts, funny Tweets, and blog posts decrying the whole idea of me serving on a jury. I threatened to wear a hat and veil and quote Sunset Boulevard if I came close to being selected. I even put up the court room scene of Lady Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil as inspiration should the lawyers even consider fucking with me on a jury. And then I was selected. For a murder trial, and an apparently well-known murder trial at that – one which I, in my news/newspaper avoiding life of ignorant bliss, had never heard about.

Once the jury was selected, the judge was adamant with his admonitions, and I was not to speak to anyone about the trial. I listened and followed his advice. Though it took all my self-control not to run home and Google the involved parties, I refrained. (If it ever came down to getting me Al Capone tax-evasion-style for something like that, my computer search record would not show anything to incriminate me.) I also held my tongue, and removed the generic jury duty comments from my blog and FaceBook and Twitter. If someone made a jury reference, I deleted it instantly. This was something I took seriously, and if you are ever in that position and hear how the judge explains the importance of honoring the process, you would do the same.

Luckily there is an end to every trial, and a time when one is finally free to speak openly about everything that went on. Hell, it’s a matter of public record. And now, as the walrus said, the time has come to talk of many things. This is my jury diary. It starts off as ridiculously as you might expect my jury story to begin, but it ends up becoming something I never thought it would be.

Out of respect to my fellow jurors, a group of people I came to genuinely like through the arduous journey we were on together, I am omitting a lot (and there will not be anything personal written about our deliberation and what exactly went on in those long hours), but the feel for how things affected me remains. I am choosing to write about it now because I have to let some of it out. It is already threatening to consume me – and whenever that happens I find writing and sharing a necessary outlet. It is the only way I have ever known.

At the very end of our service, the judge said we were no longer bound to remain silent, but that everything that went on in the jury room could be a book we chose to close and keep secret. I’m not ready to let anyone read that entire book, but I’ll let you see a few pages…

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