I've just finished a week of jury duty.
I obviously can't go into the details of the case, but it was fascinating. Although I've done it before many years ago it was still a nervous, exciting and sobering experience. It's something I think as many people as possible should do as it gives a valuable insight into the inner workings of the justice system that the less 'dodgy' of us seldom have cause to see.
Hearing the prosecution put the case forward, seeing the defendant go from being reduced to tears on the stand, to winning points over her accuser (and raising a rye smile from her defence in the process) is a common, day-to-day occurrence for those involved, but for us jury members it was at times quite stressful to see human nature torn down to it's very core right there in front of us.
Then there was the four hour deliberation and then being brought back into court to be asked if we had reached a 'verdict upon which you all agree'. No, we hadn't. So back we go with the direction that a 10-2 majority was now sufficient.
We eventually reach a verdict and as we were escorted back into court the tension was palpable. The defendant was about to find out if she was about to be taken into custody for a long time, or simply be told she could walk out right now as a free person. Any sane, normal person would have been the same emotional wreck in her place.
I'll never forget the sound of someone who has just been given their life back.
Our justice system might not be perfect, but I'd say it's about as good as it could be. (Which is just as well, as I've been sworn in on another case that's due to take another three weeks)