Kristen's Thoughts on her Jury Duty Experience

Monday, December 15, 2014

CVLS Panel Referral Program Coordinator Kristen Harrison's commitment to bettering her community is undeniable. Kristen manages the entire case placement process, reviewing all different types of cases that CVLS accepts and making sure that each one goes to the volunteer attorney best suited to handle it. In addition to the amazing work she does for CVLS, Kristen recently contributed to her community in a different capacity: jury duty! Here is her account of that experience.

What was the case about?
It involved a union worker injured on a construction site. This gentleman was suing a sub-contractor at the job site. We ruled in favor of the defendant. I agreed with our verdict and continue to feel good about our decision.

I was almost sure that I was not going to be selected considering I work for CVLS. I had to mention to the judge and the attorneys that CVLS does not represent plaintiffs in lawsuits, just defendants. I thought that would have eliminated me for sure. I was wrong.

Was it hard not being able to discuss the case with others?
Yes! It was very difficult not being able to talk about the case with my colleagues. I still went to work over lunch and after we were released every day. People kept asking me about the trial and what it was about and I could not talk about it. We jurors didn’t discuss the case before deliberating. We all took the case very seriously and followed the judge’s instructions.

In deliberations, were there conflicts? Did you feel pressured one way or another?
There were conflicts among the jurors but my decision never changed. The burden of proof was the issue for me and that made my decision easy. We discussed the case and everyone was able to voice their opinion. It was very orderly. I think that everyone felt like I did; that the decision weighed heavily on everyone’s conscience.

There is a stereotypical view that people want to avoid jury duty entirely, or to get it over with as soon as possible. Did you get that sense from your fellow jurors?
Well, I was not exactly happy when I was first selected. I was thinking, what about work??? I can’t miss two weeks of work!!! But as the trial got going, I really started to enjoy it and I found it to be really interesting. Some of the jurors had personal problems and that delayed things a bit but what can you expect when you ask people to basically put their lives on hold for an unexpected trial! I think in the end, we all had a positive experience. I love anything relating to civil justice so this was right up my alley! It was awesome!

Overall, would you say it was a positive experience?
Very positive. I was completely amazed by the defendant’s attorneys and the seamlessness of their case. It made me appreciate civil litigation and I got an opportunity to see how much work is involved with civil litigation. It made me so proud to work for CVLS in that we provide litigation attorneys for people who might not otherwise have anyone to defend them. Of course I asked the defense attorney to volunteer for CVLS at the end of the trial.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
As an advocate for social justice, it was my pleasure and honor to serve on a jury for two weeks. I know most people dread jury duty, but now I see just how important and necessary it is. It has enhanced my life both personally and professionally.

At the end of the trial, I mentioned to the defense attorney that I was very surprised that I was selected as a juror. He then told me that I was “hand selected” because of my experience and he suspected that I would be able to look at the facts and make an informed decision based on the evidence. He was right. I have to admit, that was one of the coolest things anyone has ever observed about me. Great moment indeed!