We have all seen the movies where jurors are asked to sit in judgement upon their fellow human beings and the dramatic struggles they have endured through this process. That old saying about not throwing stones if you live in glass houses comes to mind. When asking the question, can being a juror destroy your life? I would answer in the affirmative. Being asked by the state to judge one of your peers is a situation fraught with inherent dangers. I would not go lightly into such a position. Justice is the bearer of a very sharp sword, along with those scales she carries to weigh the merits and failings of those who are judged.
Can Being a Juror Destroy Your Life?
Starting with the basic necessity of having to take time off work and, perhaps, away from family can be a huge burden for some individuals. This, however, is the price we all must pay for a judicial system which is there to protect us through the prosecution of transgressors. In some instances, the instruction not to discuss the case sub judice with friends or family can be a wedge within existing important relationships like marriages. Some people share absolutely everything with their partners and not to do so can feel like a betrayal for them.
Then there are the jurors who can become traumatised by exposure to shocking images and narratives, and who can become burdened by responsibility, and also burdened by guilt about their verdicts. Think of child pornography cases and sexual abuse trials. Exposure to these vile images can leave life-long scars on certain individuals. Mothers with small children and sensitive people of all ages and gender may regret their participation. Extreme violence and the resultant physical damage upon the victims can also negatively affect certain people for years afterwards. Stress-related issues such as impotence have been linked to intense exposure to stuff like this.
Can being a juror destroy your life? What about the juror who is caught amid conflicting verdicts within a jury group and the pressure involved in that? Group dynamics can be very cruel in these situations. Then there is the fear of jury tampering by organised crime figures and the perceived danger to families and friends. Threats made to jurors when the system breaks down and fails to protect the juror. Yes, a juror can have his or her life destroyed in these life threatening circumstances. What price integrity?