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January 2, 2014

Reflections on Being Petit Juror #4

ATKINSON —The Rockingham County Courthouse is located on Route 125 just as you enter Brentwood, north of the Magnusson Farm. I had passed by its sign many times on trips to the White Mountains but had never had the occasion to drive up the winding, wooded road to the modern four story brick and granite building until this summer.

In late June, I received a letter saying that I had been selected as a petit juror for a two-week criminal session of the Superior Court that started in late July. Since I had never served as a juror, I did not know what to expect.

I drove to Brentwood on a Monday morning, parked, and got in the line, waiting to go through building security. There were several bailiffs checking belongings, running bags through an X-Ray machine, and monitoring everyone as they went through a metal detector. Court officers had each juror’s name on a small laminated card. I showed my ID, turned the card with my name on it over and went into the large juror assembly room. By 9:00 a.m., the room was filled with a mix of men and women, young and old.

Shortly after 9:00 a.m., we were all ushered into courtroom 2. We rose as Judge N. William Delker entered and stepped to a podium. Judge Delker started by explaining the importance of jury service in the American system of justice. He went over the structure of a criminal trial and stressed that jurors had to base their decision solely on the evidence presented in court. We were cautioned not to talk about a case or learn details about it from the media. After a short break, jury selections for the trials being held that week commenced. A court officer drew the laminated cards with our names from a box and I was selected as juror number 4 for a trial involving a home invasion that would last the rest of the week.

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