|The Old Court House (kool)|
(OK, Internet, that was tongue in cheek.)
The Juror's Oath in the Commonwealth runs (per 234 PA 6 2(c)) the prospective juror's raise their right hand and respond to:
‘‘You do solemnly swear by Almighty God (and those of you who affirm do declare and affirm) that you will well and truly try the issue joined between the Commonwealth and the defendant(s), and a true verdict render according to the evidence.’’
|The new courthouse annex (blah;|
all the architects evidently died previously)
"You [and each of you] do swear by Almighty God, the Searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you shall give this court [and Jury] in this issue now being tried shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and as you shall answer to God on the last great day."but TOF did not get to hear the magisterial rumbling of those words. "Searcher of all hearts," "the last great day,"... This is serious weenie, the very syllables of which may cause a witness to think twice on what he is about to say. But then that is the purpose of grand and formal phrasing. Evidently, the sovereign Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the last states in the Union to use such solemnity in its oathing.
|Northampton County Prison|
conveniently located next door to the
courthouse for ease of miscreant handling
The presiding judge compared jury duty to being in an airport with a delayed flight. There's nothing to do, and you aren't going anywhere. He should speak for himself. TOF managed to write five pages of The Shipwrecks of Time while waiting to be called.
No one gets off jury duty for such silly reasons as being the sole-proprieter-employee of a business or a single-father-who-gets-only-one-paid-day off for jury duty. But I noticed that after the ADA and defense attorney went through the list of forty candidates and chose their 12+2, neither of these people were on the jury. No point being a hard-ass.
Assisting the ADA was a police lieutenant from Easton who looked very much like the Nockamixon Cliffs rising above the Delaware River. Also in the courtroom were a pair of county sheriff's deputies, since they are charged with the security of the prisoners. Some PA State troopers were also seen floating about, no doubt involved in other cases underway. So all three levels were represented. Did not notice any of that most peculiar, and sometimes controversial breed: the Pennsylvania State Constables, who are under the governor rather than the courts, and who act something like government-sanctioned bounty hunters.
The Court of Common Pleas consists of three courts: Criminal Court, whither TOF was summoned to duty, Civil Court, and the wistfully-named Orphans Court. The latter is Pennsylvania's court dealing with wills, inheritances, marriage and divorce, adoptions, and so on. TOF wonders where uncommon pleas are heard.
"What the hell is a prothonotary?" -- Harry S Truman
On the way to the cafeteria at lunch time, TOF passed the office of the county prothonotary. Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only two states to call their chief clerk of the court by this august title, one which dates back to Byzantium. There are two Canadian provinces and two Australian states that have likewise preserved the title. Oh, and the Catholic Church, of course.
TOF is a champion of diversity and has a soft spot in his head for these local peculiarities. It will be a sad day when all the States are muscled into being homogenous duplicates of one another, as provinces of a one-size-fits-all central government.