One of those noticed arrived in the mail. My number was really high, 1727 to be exact. No chance of having to make the drive.
My attendance was requested on a Friday along with ~120 other good citizens of Sonoma County. It became obvious that something different was pending when the judge addressed us all in the assembly room.
This was the sanity phase of a criminal trial and our task was to determine if the young man in question was sane at time of the event. He had been found guilty of a series of actions that culminated in a shootout with local law enforcement that had suicide-by-cop implications.
It was fascinating to hear the police describe their high anxiety as they eventually subdued their foe. Four psychological experts attempted to dissect 22 years of a young man's life and turn key events into a diagnosis.
I found myself consumed with sadness. The many parallels with clients and family members were too numerous to set aside. This young man's family appeared to have been very involved with attempting to assist their son with his ongoing depression and substance abuse. He appeared to have received medical supervision from qualified professionals. I'm not certain that anyone in his life really failed him.
When the jury finally gathered to make our decision, almost all of us found some connection to our personal lives. The conversation was reasonably focused and we came to our decision only after very animated discussion of several key issues.
We were not experts. We were not required to be 100% certain and we definitely were not. We shared a genuine concern to do the right thing. This is why the jury thing works!
Maybe we called it right.
Don the Trustee
When my mother passed very suddenly some 16 years ago, I worked as a trustee for the first time. Her trust contained walnut orchards, peach orchards and a small vineyard. One of the properties was within the sphere of influence of the adjacent city and I dove in with the neighbors and started working on annexation. Loved this work back then and still find it very satisfying today.