THE JURY'S DECISION
by Andy Weddington
Friday, 19 October 2012
"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer." Robert Frost
About a month ago I received summons to report to our county's Superior Court for jury duty.
Along with about 75 or so fellow citizens I reported mid-week last in compliance with that summons. It was a criminal trial.
Anyone who has ever gone through seating of a jury understands the tedious, deliberate process, in the name of fairness, the court follows.
Long before the clerk called my name for questioning by the judge and counsel, the respective sides - prosecution and defense, at one point or another, said they were satisfied with the jury as comprised. But challenges from both sides kept the process moving along.
I did not expect to be called for questioning. I was.
When revealed I was a retired Marine that had conducted Summary Courts Martial, been seated as a juror for a General Courts Martial, and as a commanding officer conducted non-judicial punishment and referred Marines to courts martial, I did not expect to be seated. I was.
I expected to be thanked and dismissed by either side. I was not.
So, I, along with 11 others, and 2 alternates, stood, raised our right hands and swore an oath to do our duty - listen to testimony, consider physical evidence, deliberate, and make decisions based on law provided by the judge.
From my perspective, the heart of leading a wholesome, productive, and successful life rests with integrity. And so integrity is critical to the workings of our judicial system.
Webster defines integrity as "adherence to a code of values. Incorruptibility. Soundness. Completeness."
As a Marine integrity means one is honest in all things said and done. And, that honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles reign above all else. For me it's simple, regardless the circumstances, one either has integrity or one does not. Though there may be 50 or 100 or 1,000 shades of gray associated with some things, not so with integrity.
Jury duty now complete, I am free to speak of the experience. Just this morning a friend asked if I was going to write commentary. I said no.
I am not ready to write about the particulars of the case. But I am ready to draw parallels from that experience to the "jury" decision scheduled for Tuesday, 06 November.
America is now in the last couple of intense weeks of hearing the cases of two men - President Obama and Mr. Romney - vying for the office of President of the United States.
Unfortunately, the messages being heard, and seen, by the American people - the jury - unlike in the courtroom is not sworn testimony.
And so sorting through word and deed (in articles, TV and radio ads, commentary, debates, etc.), some if not much misleading, to reach logical inferences as to the truth and who is best qualified to serve Americans as president, is no easy task. In its purist sense, the juror's (voters) job calls for setting aside bias and emotional snap decisions, thinking - more abstract than not - about all of the material, and then each citizen reaching a decision that provides an inner sense of peace as to fairness and having done what is right.
Talk of the economy and taxes and foreign policy and healthcare and women's issues, and defense have dominated the discussion for this election. They are all important. But there is an overarching matter at hand that is not getting the attention it merits - integrity.
It is this simple. President Obama compromised his integrity to we the people, the jurors - the voters, with regard to the murder of four Americans, one an ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, 11 September 2012.
President Obama has not been truthful with what he knew and when he knew it. President Obama's direct representatives e.g., Secretary of State, United States Representative to the United Nations, Press Secretary, and others (and most certainly with the president's knowledge) have not been truthful about the terrorist attack. It's now clear there was deliberate intent to deceive the American people.
Regrettably, the investigation will not be complete before Election Day. But that really does not matter for gray is of no concern. We know our country's leadership was not truthful - the president and others compromised their integrity.
One mark of a leader, someone with integrity, is that no matter how bad the situation they immediately take a step forward, accept responsibility, tell the truth, and bear the consequences. Such is the burden of leadership.
The last debate between President Obama and Mr. Romney is Monday night. Mr. Romney has but one fact to make crystal clear to America - President Obama lied to us, the jury. And it was a calculated lie that continued for weeks.
All Mr. Romney has to say is, "My fellow Americans, it is with much sadness that I say President Obama lied to me. He lied to you. And so did high-level officials directly representing our president lie to us. This is disturbing to me. I am certain it is disturbing to you. For now we must all wonder as to what else in this administration has been a lie. I don't know but it's logical to conclude there's more. Quite possibly much more. I deserve better. You deserve better. If in no other place, our country deserves integrity in the Oval Office. As do we all, I have my faults. But I vow to you my integrity is not subject to compromise - I, nor anyone who works for me, will ever lie to you."
The criminal trial included two defendants - separate trials. We found one defendant guilty. The jury evenly split on the second defendant, we could not agree. The judge declared mistrial.
Our looming election has an air of similarity to the judicial due process I experienced - there is call for millions of "jurors" to consider "testimony" and "evidence," think abstractly, draw logical inferences, and reach a reasonable personal decision that leaves inner peace that justice was served. There won't be a mistrial.
God Bless America - for all our grand land's faults, there is great good. Greater good. This I learned, yet again through firsthand practical application, the past two weeks. Our justice system is not perfect - sometimes the innocent are found guilty and the guilty found not guilty. But our system is human so regardless the design there is inherent flaw. We live with it. So goes the election process.
I don't recall the last time I slept more than 4 hours uninterrupted - a long time ago. Last night I slept 9 1/2 hours uninterrupted. That is all the confirmation I need that justice was served - my civic duty performed; with integrity.
Casting a vote, whether for defendant or president, is a privilege. It is an important, sobering responsibility that demands maturity and seriousness and rational thought.
President. Integrity. Two nine-letter words. Hmm. Coincidence? Probably not. Synonyms? Of course.
Keep the faith!
My honor to serve. And, my honor, too, that peers voted me jury foreman. I did my best - for self, community, and country. Again, duty calls in 18 days. Again, I will do my best - for self, community, and country.