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Jury Duty in Riverside, California

Riverside Courthouse / Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I’ve never served on a jury before. It’s not exactly something I wanted to do, but it’s definitely a civic duty and I believe in our judicial system, and since Riverside County seems to summon citizens exactly once a year without fail, it was really only a matter of time before I was selected.

Honestly I enjoyed the trial itself – it was a quick one, only a few days – and the process was fascinating. But once the trial was over, and jury deliberations started, that’s when it got ugly. I was sort of stunned by how easily some of my fellow jurors threw the judge’s instructions out the window – and how some were more interested in following their gut reactions, rather than just rely on the evidence. To say it was an eye-opening experience is to put it mildly. I still believe in our system, but I’m even more grateful that it’s 12 jurors, and not 6 or 8!

Riverside Courthouse / Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I took these images on the first day, with my iPhone at lunch. The courthouse was built in 1904, and was modeled after the Grand and Petit Palais in Paris – so it’s absolutely beautiful! And it has orange trees growing in front, reminiscent of Riverside’s heydey – and they were in full bloom. Orange blossoms may be my all-time favorite scent – just pure heaven. And the area around the courthouse is equally as beautiful – it’s right in the middle of downtown, just blocks from where I used to live.

Riverside Courthouse / Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Overall the experience was stressful and not fun, but I’m glad I was able to do it. It felt good to see the system working, and it felt good to be a part of it. But if that was my one and only time behind those closed juror doors, that would be fine with me!

Oh, and the newspaper headline in the image above is NOT from the trial I was on. That was the headline on the local paper the first day I served, and it just jumped out at me, so I shot the image in front of the courthouse. I am extremely thankful I wasn’t a part of a trial with an ending like that!

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