By Deacon John De Gano
Have you ever had to fill out an evaluation for a workshop you attended or a retreat experience?
You know, those forms that get handed out at the very end to provide feedback to the presenters on what worked or didn’t work, what was clear or not as clear, and what was beneficial or not beneficial.
Last month I reported for jury duty and although I took a book with me, I had plenty of time to reflect on my Potential Juror (or PJ) experience while I waited for my name to be called and later, having been assigned to a court, to report for the jury selection process.
Having been told by a judge that jury duty is a responsibility of citizenship, I began to formulate in my mind a way to make jury duty more agreeable to those summoned to serve: PJs, Jurors (Js). Defendant (D). Judge (J) And assorted Attorneys (As).
Why not distribute an evaluation form for PJs (and Js) to respond to during their time waiting in the jury pool room (or outside the courtroom)?
After all, there’s always room for improvement and perhaps, in the service of justice, even the judges would welcome and benefit from “full disclosure” or “transparency” that an evaluation (similar to students’ evaluation of their classes or college professors) would provide.
Imagine if there was an App for that! We would have some inkling about the qualifications of those faceless names we are asked as citizens to vote on and elect as court judges.
And so I naturally thought of Jesus and his “day in court.”
Below is my feeble first attempt at making a questionnaire to evaluate this historic event: You might even think of more questions.
Case: People of Rome v. Son of God
Were you greeted warmly, with a kiss, by the arresting officers?
How would you rate your experience in the holding tank?
Were you treated with dignity? Did they give you the cloak off their back?
Did anyone wash your feet or offer you a snack?
What about a drink of water or other refreshing beverage?
If you had any wounds did they bind them up for you?
Regarding your torturers, would you say that they were sufficiently trained? Did they hit the nail on the mark?
Did you have court representation during the trial? If so, how would you rate the defense attorney’s preparation? Was he or she professional at all times? Did they seem nervous? Or disengaged?
Did you get a chance to question your accusers?
What about the jury selection process? Would you say that they represented a ‘jury of your peers’? Why or why not?
Were you satisfied with the verdict? (Please explain in no more than one hundred words).
Please note: If found guilty and given the option, would you want to carry your own cross or have assistance from some stranger in the crowd?
If you were a potential juror, did the judge welcome you warmly?
Were you made to feel respected? Intimidated? ‘Just right!’ Please explain your answer.
Were there adequate breaks in the proceedings for freshening up, meal breaks, etc.?
Are you familiar with the defendant or any of his ‘priors’, if any? If yes, please explain.
Did you ever dine with the defendant on one or more occasions?
What, if anything, would have made your jury service more rewarding?
Please note: Should you wish to be excused from this or any lengthy trial there is a one-day/one fight option for participants at the Coliseum. Please see the bailiff to be assigned your lion, tiger or gladiator combatant and time slot.
For the Judge:
How was your morning coffee and toast?
Did you sleep well or did you or your spouse suffer from fitful dreams? Was the defendant (or his attorney) in your dreams? If the dream included a declaration or verdict of ‘guilty!, would that influence you in your neutrality as judge in this trial?
Are you able to listen to the testimony and make a ruling solely on the evidence presented and not be influenced by the rabid mob assembling outside or should we: a) Send him to King Herod (play the race card); b) Ask Jesus what is truth and then reject his answer as unresponsive, c) Try and deflect criticism of yourself by offering up a dubious ‘Holiday Exchange’ of Jesus, called Bar-Abbas (Son of God) for the revolutionary Barabbas, d) Find Jesus innocent and face the consequences, or e) Have your servants prepare a bowl of water for hand washing (just in case) and then have the defendant flogged and crucified just because you can do so?
Please note: There will be an after-trial party at Annas and Caiphas’ home. Please RSVP.
Thank you for your evaluation. We make every attempt to make sure that everyone has a pleasant experience in court. Have a nice day.
Imagine if they had had such an evaluation in Jesus’ day ... .
They did. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus told his disciples that there would be a Final Judgment and that the most important questions to be asked concerned how we treat one another.
Perhaps we would be wise to remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” and apply it with love, mercy and humility in all of our actions. And in so doing, allow our ‘informed’ consciences to be our guide.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.