“Dear Prudence,” an advice column in Slate, this week responded to the story of a juror whose experience reviewing evidence in a sexual assault case left the juror with memories that stunted her ability to fantasize. The juror had previously been aroused principally by relatively aggressive sexual behavior, but after witnessing the evidence of a sexual assault, the juror lost her appetite.
Prudence offered this advice to the juror:
As humans we have a vast imaginative capacity, and the movies we create in our heads are private and personal works of art. You don’t have to replace your go-to fantasy. Delight in the fact that you are a woman who has a rich, complex, and satisfying erotic life.
That’s reassuring, perhaps, but the case points out two things often overlooked about jury service. First, reviewing evidence in difficult cases can leave a mark on jurors’ memories that last weeks, years, or even a lifetime, for better or worse. Second, the experience of jury duty can sometimes expose jurors to realities that they otherwise successfully avoid, or see only through fiction and dramatizations.
Though this is an admittedly unusual juror account of the service experience, it’s another reminder of the sheer range of impacts jury duty has on people every day.