How much in your life do you take for granted? The more you understand how precarious your own comfort is, the better you'll understand a lot of things, including -- although perhaps least importantly -- juries.
Today is Halloween, but here in practical Milwaukee we get our trick-or-treating done in the sunshine of Sunday afternoon. This year it was easy. It was the first year that the kids in my charge were old enough to go around the neighborhood by themselves -- so I got a long workout in, while my husband manned the front door.
That paragraph sounds mundane, but according to two recent studies, every word of it shows how lucky I am. Basically the whole day was possible only because I live in a safe neighborhood.
First of all, if I didn't feel safe, I not only might not have exercised, but I might not exercise very often at all. In a study released last week, Harvard researchers found that women who did not feel safe in their neighborhoods at night got 20% less physical activity than others did.
Then there's the trick-or-treating. My neighborhood is safe enough that our group could go out alone -- but in many neighborhoods, kids aren't going out at all. A survey released yesterday found that 73% of white respondents and only 56% of minority respondents planned to let their children trick-or-treat. The numbers corresponded to responses in the same survey about safety and income levels. The press release said:
Ninety-one percent of whites, compared with 75 percent of minorities, said they felt their kids would be secure when they went out seeking candy in their area.
Similarly, 93 percent of people earning $50,000 or more said their communities are safe for trick-or-treating, compared with 76 percent of those making less than $25,000.
People's lives are different, which makes their experiences different, which makes their attitudes different. It's not a bad mantra for life. Because it also makes different people respond differently to your case, it's a great mantra for jury selection.
Halloween note: It's a great day for this blog when jurors dress in costumes for court, and today it happened right here in Milwaukee! Proof and Hearsay reports that the entire jury in Judge Rick Sankovitz's trial walked into court this morning wearing judicial robes. It's the same trial where he earlier struck a juror who was sending Twitter messages from the courtroom. They started closing arguments today; it's a shame to see that trial end.