I had jury duty this week and was very happy that I was "excused and thanked" after one day of service. The case, on which I almost served, sounded like it would have been a frustrating and boring experience for me. We had all been questioned for a particular criminal trial and I was relieved when the jury was sworn in. Then, they decided that they needed to pick four alternate jurors.
When I was seated in the box, I was hastily dismissed by the defense attorney. Believe me, I didn't take it personally. I guess it was something that I said during my interviewing process. I certainly empathized with the attorneys in their effort to seek jurors who would perhaps be lenient toward their client. This experience reminded me of growing up with an attorney in the house — my father.
Daddy, now age ninety-eight, finally retired from his law practice at age ninety-three, or thereabouts. He had been an attorney in private practice during the early part of his career. He was then appointed to the office of County Attorney of Grayson County, Texas. He was subsequently elected twice after that — serving for approximately twelve years.
After his time in public office, my father returned to being a defense attorney. He has always joked that he was a "country lawyer," but don't let his modesty fool you. He has handled many cases in his long career — wills, estates, probates, taxes, divorces, and even a murder trial or two. He also used to joke about the first case that he ever handled — a divorce. He successfully got the divorce for his client, and right after that, they remarried each other again.
My father served as an elder at church for thirty-nine years. It was remarkable that he not only handled that responsibility very well, but also his coinciding duties as County Attorney. My father had the reputation of being such a good attorney — defense or prosecution — that he could take either side of a case and still win.
However, Daddy faced a difficult situation when he had to try a murder case. Without getting into a "hot button" issue, I'll just tell you what he did because of his own moral, Christian convictions. My father's job — as an elected official — was to convict the man accused of murder. However, because of his moral and religious feelings about this particular case, he didn't believe in the death penalty. What was he to do?
My father did his duty as a paid official and won the case — convicting the man of murder. He felt badly about it, called a local minister who then studied the Bible with the prisoner. The prisoner was then baptized into Christ. My father helped facilitate a conversion out of a conviction! It was a long time ago, and I don't know whatever happened to the man after that. However, it's a true story of a man who was not only convicted of murder, but also of his sins — a lesson that I'll never forget for the rest of my life! I guess you could say that he had to face one jury that helped him avoid the ultimate jury.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24 NAS)
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37-41)