No Coercion - one man's tale of instructing a judge and potential jurors in the evil of conscription, or any coerced behavior, including jury "duty".
Today I had jury duty--or, as I prefer to call it, jury conscription. I was selected to sit for voir dire for a civil case. Before getting around to hardship questions (which was my chief practical concern, seeing as how I'm a stay-at-home-dad unable to find alternative childcare for an entire week), the plaintiff's attorney asked if anyone had any "strong feelings" about our civil justice system.
My hand shot up.
He looked a bit surprised, as if it was the kind of question he asks as a matter of course but is accustomed to receiving only the chirping of crickets in response. He asked me to explain. I raised my voice to ensure even the spectators in the back row could hear me and told him that I was absolutely opposed to the entire concept of forced jury duty and that I believed that qualified as "strong feelings." His mild surprise became something more like disbelief, and the judge gave me the arched eyebrow. Murmurs went through the court room, and I heard a couple of jurors in the box with me give quiet exclamations of "Yeah!"
The attorney said, "But yet here you are. You still came today."
To this I replied (while gesturing toward the judge and bailiff), "Yes, because they have the guns and can force me." Louder murmurs from the crowd and jury box, and quite a bit of laughter this time, too.
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