A while back I was seated on a jury. Anyone who knows me in real life is well aware that I’ve been jealous of potential jurors for most of my life. Weird, I know. I still loved my experience and learned a lot, but my particular case was incredibly emotionally draining, as it was of the Law and Order: SVU variety. But, reflecting back, aside from the stress there is a lot I learned about decision making and being fair.
- Use all of your senses. When viewing a witness and hearing testimony, you are not only permitted but encouraged to obersevre their posture, body language, the tenor of their voice and facial expressions. It isn’t just what they say, but how. In a case with no physical evidence, it was the star witness’s physical demeanor that really sold me, and others on the jury.
- Consider the source. A big sticking point for us was that two of the witnesses were not getting any benefit from testifying against the defendant, one even moreso than the other. Their was certainly nothing in it for them other than the truth, as their lives had moved on and the players no longer mattered to them. Likewise, consider who you get travel tips from. A friend or blogger who had a great time and wants you to do the same is likely to be your best resource, moreso than a tour company or sponsored blogger with certain allegiances.
- Be prepared. Court rooms are cold, lunch breaks are flexible, and you may not even be selected to be on the final jury (there are two alternates). So every day I brought a sweater, a good book, a silly magazine and some snacks. While you can’t prepare for everything (like randomly being let out 2 hours early one day for unknown-to-us court reasons), you should prepare for everything you know of. Similarly, there’s no good reason not to have comfy shoes, emergency funds and a good towel. In fact, I would say treat it like a cold, unreliable courthouse: bring a snack, reading material and sweater and you’ll be fine in most situations.
- Work with what you’ve got. We were only given certain information, and the pertinent legal knoweledge. We all knew Massachusetts had statutory rape laws, but for whatever reason they were considered irrelevent to the case, so we had to decide based on the facts we actually had in front of us. When you’re traveling, don’t lament the guide book you forgot, the local knowledge you don’t have, the clothing you can’t find. Just take what you have in front of you and make it work.
- Find a Way to Clear Your Mind. Traveling can be stressful, and even mroeso depending on your companions and where in the world you are. It’s extremely iomportant to have a reliable way to restore your sanity. During the trial, I would lay on the couch eating cheese and crackers, talking to no one, watching tv and movies nonstop onDemand. If I didn’t, I would get too freaked out. Like traveling, I had limited resources available to me–I couldn’t discuss the trial with anyone, especially not my deposition-filming brother, and I wasn’t supposed to read the news. When abroad, I prefer to write, go for a solo walk, do some yogo, or listen to great live music while in some form of transportation. Find something that works, and apply as necessary.