Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mennonites and Jury Duty

Several weeks ago I received a jury summons.  I let them know immediately that I was a Mennonite and that I was unable to swear oaths or sit in judgement of others.  Both of these subjects are well covered in the New Testament, particularly in the book of Matthew.  I received a response acknowledging that the state of Florida accepts religious exemptions from jury duty, but that unlike other accepted exemptions, I had to appear before a judge.

What do you do if you are a plain Christian and you receive jury duty?  Be patient, polite and a good example to others.  Don't be strident or angry.  Read the bible and other literature to back up your beliefs.  I found to be a good source.  It was there that I found the policy on jury duty that was adopted by the Southeastern Mennonite Conference in 1993.

I reported to the Jury room on time and explained that I was a Mennonite and unable to swear an oath.  They asked if I could affirm that I would tell the truth, which I then did.  So there was the oath problem taken care of.

Next we were taken up to the hallway outside of the courtroom.  I was ready to speak to the judge about my inability to judge others.  We sat and sat.  It became obvious to us that something was taking place.  The judge came out and explained that the defendant had decided to take a plea deal, so our case had gone away.

We went back to the jury room and were formally excused from any further jury duty.  We couldn't get out of there fast enough.

I almost (not quite) wish that I had the opportunity to see how the judge reacted to my argument.  Perhaps some of you have had this experience.

The moral of the story is to not get upset if you get summoned.  Just stick by your beliefs, trust in God and everything with work out.

God bless,

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