Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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A Season of Change
By Guest Columnist Marie Broder, District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit

GRIFFIN - Fall is finally upon us. The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and, thankfully, college football has returned. For those of you who celebrate the fall weather, this is a welcome change. For those of you who love the long days of summer, perhaps you are mourning the change. Either way, the change of seasons is here, and change is one of the only constants in life.

The winds of change hit me hard this past week as my daughter lost her first front tooth. Her smile changed instantly. She is no longer a baby or a toddler. She is a girl. I was struck with feelings of nostalgia, apprehension, and excitement. I instantly missed the toddler days, I was nervous of what my daughter will face as she grows, and I was so very excited about what type of person she will become. That’s how change works, isn’t it? It is scary and exciting at the same time.

We now face a time of great change in the justice system. We have received word that jury trials will be allowed. Committees across the Circuit formed to meet stringent guidelines to make sure everyone is safe when jury trials resume later this year. Judges, Sheriffs, Clerks, court staff and county personnel have worked around the clock to determine how each county will safely fire our justice system back up in the face of a pandemic. It simply must happen. Since March, the justice system essentially sat dormant. Cases are not moving, victims are not receiving closure, and men and women are in jail waiting for a trial that seems will never come. The movement of the justice system is necessary for the success of any free society, so again, jury trials simply must happen.

All of these changes are going to be hard. It will take much longer to select a jury because of the need for social distancing. Courtrooms will be rearranged so that witnesses, jurors, and attorneys are in different areas of the courtroom. Jurors will likely deliberate in an empty courtroom, instead of in a small jury room. And we may rely more on technology to bring everything together. As trial lawyers, the thought of these changes is unnerving, because we are in unfamiliar territory. But as with all change in life, we must be resilient and adapt. And, we will adapt.

Now we are calling on you. If you are called for jury duty, I ask that you answer the call understanding that everyone is adapting to the changes in how we conduct our business. We have spent countless hours ensuring your safety. You will be required to wear a mask at certain points. And the configuration of the courtroom may seem at odds with how you pictured it. The process may take longer. Yes things have changed, things are different, but we are ready to move! We just need you to ensure that things do, in fact, move.

We need you. Serving as a juror is a Constitutional duty. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of the Constitution.” In a world, right now, that seems so rocked by change, know that as we begin to resume trials, while they will look different, the principles will still be the same. The pursuit of justice, the search for the truth, the presentation of evidence, and at the end of the day, 12 jurors deliberating in order to render a verdict. The wheels of justice stand ready to turn. Will you answer the call if it is your turn? I hope you all stay safe, and be good to each other.

Submitted 10.5.20