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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ebay How To--Step 5: Fees and Final Notes on Selling on Ebay

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the fees that both PayPal and Ebay charges.  On Ebay if you do not have a store, here are the highlights effective March 30, 2010. The smaller type is taken directly from Ebay's website:

STANDARD FEES (For sellers without a store ONLY)

List Auction-style FREE with a low start price—pay only if your item sells.
  • NO Insertion Fees for Auction-style listings when you list your item with a start price under $1—up to 50 listings per month. Pay only if your item sells.

With no or low Insertion Fees for Auction-style listings—plus the fact that Auction-style listings get an automatic boost in search results when they're about to end—these standard rates are a great value if you sell occasionally or sell to earn extra cash. Be sure to read the red paragraphs below.  

UPDATE 9.18.12:  Please keep in mind that Ebay has restrictions on new sellers. Your money will sit in your PayPal account for at least 3 days after the item has been shipped. Confirmation of delivery is required  for you to withdraw your money which means you need to be sure that you print your label from the Ebay site with a tracking number.    If you don't do this, it will stay there until you have reached $250 in sales or 25  transactions whichever comes first.

I learned this the hard when when I opened a "demo" Ebay account to teach someone how to sell and listed five of my own items (rather than theirs).    The good news is that three sold almost immediately but the bad news is that my money will not be available to me for several more days.  

If you think you'll have plenty of Ebay items to sell over a period of time, go ahead and get set up and list (and hopefully sell) your items.  Within a few months you'll be free of the restrictions and can get your money in the usual 2-3 day turnaround time rather than waiting for the shipping confirmation.


  • FREE pictures—up to 12 per listing
  • FREE Selling Manager Pro with Premium and Anchor subscriptions
  • Plus all the other great marketing tools you get with an eBay Stores subscription, including your own customizable store front and Markdown Manager. These extra tools are very helpful,  particularly at tax time.

Choose the package that's right for you.  (Ebay's Fee Illustrator is helpful in determining which store, if any, is best for you.  I currently have the BASIC store.)

  • BASIC: 20¢ Fixed Price Insertion Fees, $15.95/month.  Consider a Basic Store if you list more than 50 Fixed Price or Auction-style items a month. It's a great starter package if you plan to start an eBay business or ramp up your selling.   I like to keep at least 200 items in my store and auction about 10 per week, so 40 per month.  The extra exposure that Ebay will be giving store items is expected to increase sales dramatically.  

  • PREMIUM: 5¢ Fixed Price Insertion Fees, $49.95/month.  Great choice for higher volume sellers (more than 250 items per month) and sellers listing in both Auction-style and Fixed Price formats. 

  • ANCHOR: 3¢ Fixed Price Insertion Fees, $299.95/month.  Get the same great deal as the old Store Inventory format-now with full exposure in search results! With an Anchor Store subscription, higher volume sellers get top savings and the lowest package rates on eBay. 

Be sure to calculate how much you would have to sell just to meet the fee requirements.  For me, it 1-2 items a month.  My shipping & handling charge ($1.50 per item) more than meets the fee requirements so it is not difficult to break even.  When I first opened my Ebay store, I withdrew $100 from our savings account and within two weeks put it back in and have never had to take money out again to keep my store open.  
Set a goal of  listing a few items a week  and try to maintain that. Start LOW, maybe even five items a week.  One popular Ebay seller who calls herself  The Queen of Auctions,  Lynn Dralle,  from whom I have learned a lot, lists 100 items every week and teaches others to do the same.  I don't have time for that at this stage of life but she continues to be my favorite source for information and tips.  Sign up for her free newsletter which comes out 2x a month which is very helpful.  You can disregard the chatter and sales pitches if you are not interested.  I have also read several of  her books from the local library and even bought one.   Definitely motivating.
I encourage everyone to try selling on Ebay and to teach your kids how to do so as well.  Both of my sons earn extra $$ selling things they don't use any longer and occasionally they will pick up something for resale as well.  There is definitely a learning curve and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  I wanted to learn something totally different when I turned 50 (a few years ago) and took an entire summer reading everything I could find and "practicing" selling.  The thrill of the hunt is fun and every now and then buying something for 50 cents and selling it for $50+ is exciting, too (I've done this several times).  This home business  has paid off for us, particularly during Christmas, graduation and wedding seasons when there are so many extra expenses incurred.  The extra money cushions our main family income which my husband provides and yes, we do declare the income on our tax return.    Enjoy the adventure!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ebay How To: Step 4--Shipping Your Items

After having a nice listing with a sharp looking photograph, someone is sure to buy your item.  Ebay will notify you via email that your item has sold.  Within that email there will be a link to SEND INVOICE.  The Sell Your Item Form should have had all the information needed to automatically fill in the invoice for you, so just click SEND.  Hopefully, your buyer will pay via PayPal immediately or within a day or so.  If they do not, go to RESOLVE A PROBLEM so that Ebay can contact them.  In all the sales I have made, I  have only had a few that have not paid.  Ebay issues you a credit for the final value fee and you can relist the item for free.  The whole process takes about a week or so to complete.

Assuming all goes well and your item is paid for, THEN  you begin to pack your item.  Use Priority Mail boxes, other clean boxes or bubble wrap envelopes, depending on the size of your item.  Most boxes come flat, so you need to assemble by folding and use strapping/packing tape or other secure tape to hold them together and seal them.   I use a tape dispenser which is a timesaver and secures the tape easily around box edges.  Do not use masking tape or invisible desk tape. The post office will not accept items sealed with either.  

If you use Priority Mail you can also use Priority labels which are also free.  Be sure to put your return address on the label and send the package to the address that PayPal has verified.   Also print out a copy of the invoice to enclose with the item which should be wrapped securely, especially if it is a breakable item.  We get the daily newspaper which is an abundant source of clean wrapping paper.   I also purchase in bulk a large box of white tissue paper as well.  I wrap the item first in tissue then again in newspaper.  I pad the item on all sides with wadded up  newspaper.   I purchase a box of  butcher paper from Sam's Club about once a year for wrapping items such as books when I do not use Priority Mail.  It's inexpensive and clean and accepts marker writing well without smearing.

I maintain a workstation in the house with all the packing supplies I need organized together so that I can quickly prepare an item for shipping.  It's a huge timesaver to keep tape, scissors, labels, envelopes, etc. in one place.  As I mentioned before, I keep the boxes in  our laundry room.

A quick trip to the Post Office and your sale is completed.  Our post office is literally 2 minutes from our home. so it is very convenient.  If you are tech-savvy and have an accurate scale, you can preprint your postage at home via or via PayPal (which I use to print mine).  I rarely go to the post office anymore.  If I have boxes to ship, I request a pickup online which is also a free service by USPS.  I always email the buyer after I have shipped their purchased item so they know it is on its way.  This little courtesy is greatly appreciated and generally guarantees positive feedback.  Be sure to leave positive feedback for your buyer once they have paid you as well.  

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ebay How To: Step 3--Listing Your Item(s)

How are you at giving a good description of what you see?  That's all you have to do in writing a listing.  The  Ebay template is very easy to use and basically walks you step-by-step through the form to fill in the information that is needed.   To access it, go to the Ebay home page and click SELL in the upper right-hand corner.  In the drop-down menu, click SELL AN ITEM.   This page opens up.  

You then have the option of clicking on WHAT'S IT WORTH?/LOOK IT UP or START SELLING.  If you have no idea what your item is worth, the What's It Worth link is useful in determining either a fixed price or an auction start price.  Terapeak will give you a range of prices based on items that have previously sold.  If the range shows up as very low or not at all,  it may not be in Ebay's  database.  Sometimes that's bad; sometimes that's VERY good.    If you already have an idea of the value or at least of what you want to receive for your item, then click on START SELLING.

Browse the categories to find the one that fits your item OR just start typing in the blank and it will give you a list of suggestions.  For the caller ID module that I listed, I typed "caller id module" in the blank and several options came up that I could use.  Choose the BEST one for your item.  In this case, it was TELEPHONES & PAGERS > CALLER ID BOXES.   Click CONTINUE.  You can list in multiple categories but I never do.

You end up at the SELL YOUR ITEM FORM.  Fill in the form with all the information that you have. Make your title specific using up as much of the space allowed as you can.  Upload your photo.  The first photo is free.  After March 30 I believe you can upload up to 12 for free.  Type a thorough description of your item in the space provided.  You can type normally and  it will appear just as you type, or if you are familiar with HTML, you can use that for variety.  I use it via a "translator" at another site which converts what I want into that language.    I keep the same template in my MAIL box and just update it with new item specifics each time so that it looks similar in all my  store  listings.  Include size, color, brand, defects (hopefully there aren't any), measurements if clothing, model #, year, publisher...whatever YOU would want to know about this item if you were looking to buy one.  Check your spelling. 

I always opt out of the Listing Designer but I like the free VISITOR COUNTER.  Choose START PRICE (auction), FIXED PRICE OR STORE INVENTORY.  To save on insertion fees, choose  START IMMEDIATELY.    PayPal is the most common form of payment and requires its own separate account and of course, incurs separate fees.  Ebay owns PayPal.   Ebay does not allow money orders or cashiers checks.  I personally do not accept credit cards.

Choose the shipping method you prefer.  Remember that you can get Priority Mail boxes for free from the post office. Be sure to WEIGH your item with an accurate scale INCLUDING the shipping box.  In general, Priority Boxes add an addition 8 oz. to the total weight.   I always use the SHIPPING CALCULATOR so I don't have to calculate how much to charge for buyers depending on their location as the cost will differ.  I always  add $1.50 handling charge to every item I sell to cover gas and supplies that I use.  

I used to ship internationally but I no longer offer this service due to a few items mysteriously "not arriving". It's up to you. There are additional customs forms to complete  when shipping internationally which you can get at the post office.  Choose your buyer requirements and your return policy.  I accept returns within 7 days and send money back via PayPal. Buyer pays shipping charges.  

Be sure to check YOUR FEES SO FAR amount so there are no surprises when Ebay invoices you at the end of the month.    I am assuming you have set up your seller account which is NOT the same as your buyer account.  A credit card is required for this.  

Here is a sample of my listing for a pair of cute Christmas ornaments.  I have used HTML in my listing to make it appear the way it does with the color and various types.  

Happy Listing!  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ebay How To: Step 1--What To Sell?

What should you sell on Ebay?  All I can tell you is, sell what you need to and/or sell what you enjoy shopping for and selling.  The need-to part would be things around your house that are just taking up space and no longer being used, toys and clothes (very clean) that your kids have outgrown, extra dishes, books, games...just about anything can be sold.  

I tend to limit my items to what can fit in the boxes that I have.  Did you know you can order FREE Priority Mail boxes from the U.S. Post Office online?  They are shipped to your house directly for FREE as well.  Be careful not to order too many because even though they arrive flat, the boxes they come in take up some storage space. I store mine in our laundry room.  I ordered way too many one time --be careful of the quanity-- and ended up giving them to the post office (which they gladly accepted).  I also keep small bubble wrap envelopes on hand which I get at Sam's  Club for less than $5.00 (25 in a pack).

On the fun side, I love going to thrift stores and garage sales for our family as well as Ebay shopping.  I have developed an eye over time for what sells pretty well, although sometime it takes awhile for it to sit in your store for folks to discover the treasure that you have found.  My general rules when buying are:

  1. Spend no more than $5.00 (once in awhile I have exceeded this)
  2. Buy only what will fit in the boxes and/or envelopes I have
  3. Items must be clean or able to be cleaned well
  4. Amount I spend must easily be doubled (at least) in the sales price
  5. Whatever I buy must be suitable to give as a gift to someone, re-donate back and/or keep for myself.    Several Christmas and birthday gifts for friends have come from my stash. I am weeding out my inventory now and have a lot going into a gift storage area of the house.
My time is limited and I still have one child (age 15) at home.  I usually shop when he is either out at a class or other activity.  Some Saturday mornings my husband and I shop together. He loves yard sales since I showed him the treasures you can find and we have bought things together for the house and for the family.  

I love nice china, collectibles and books, so I tend to sell a lot of those.  You may enjoy something else and prefer to sell that instead.  You only need to learn enough about the item to describe it well in your listing.

As an example, I took photos of three items that I listed today for you.  We'll walk through the stages over the next day or so and see how they do in their auctions over the next week :  

Ebay How To: Step 2--Taking Photos of Your Items

One of the keys to a good Ebay listing is to take good, clear, close-up photos of the item you are selling.  A picture really is worth 1,000 words.  Take a look at some of Ebay's listings and see what a difference a good photo makes.  I know when I'm shopping for something, if the photo doesn't look  pretty good, I usually don't even click on it.  Taking photos for your listings  does not require an expensive camera or one with 12 MegaPixels, although it must be a digital camera. Ebay will shrink the size if it taken with these too many MPs.    Currently I use an older 4.0 MP Canon PowerShot 520. With my computer's photo editing program, the photos generally look like they are taken with a much more expensive camera.  A special camera studio is not required either.  

I take my photos in our dining room in the daytime when the sun is out but not in direct sun (our dining room faces north).  I never use a flash, preferring to brighten or highlight using our photo editing program. I have been told that most digital camera photos  need some lightening up to enhance them a bit.  I usually have the camera set on CLOSE-UP to get a good zoomed-in shot.  I get out a dining room chair and put a padded table leaf on it (see photo).   The pad in the photo is narrow but I have wider ones that I use for larger items. Once in awhile I even use the carpeted floor or even the 12" tiles to illustrate size.

After awhile of taking photos and listing items, I decided I wanted my listings to have a distinctive feature.  I purchased a yard of pastel blue silk and a yard of black velvet to use as backgrounds for my photos (see photo).  I have used red sequined fabric as a background for Christmas items on occasion as well.  The black piece is my most often-used background and shows up most items quite well.  Whatever color you use, it's best that it be a solid color rather than a stripe or a plaid.  Make it your signature color.

I then lay the fabric over the chair and table leaf to make a background (see photo).  Each item is photographed separately.  Although it only takes a couple of minutes to set everything up to take photos, I generally don't bother unless I have a least five (5) items to list.

The final photo shows how an item looks against a clean, dark fabric. This is the photo that I used in the listing.  The velvet gives it a little texture rather than a matte look. Try this yourself for some nice photos.   The next step is to load the photos on to your computer and edit them to look their best. Try to make certain that the color of your item (in real life) matches what shows up on your computer screen.  Depending on the type of lighting, it can be different.  I have found that if I try to take photos using incandescent lighting, there is a yellow / orangish tint to the photos. Natural daylight is, by far, a better light source.  Also, don't make a shadow with your body if you are standing with the light behind you.  

Most often, you'll only need one photo in your listing but occasionally you may want several.  I used to use Auctiva, a third-party management system to host the photos but after they raised their fees, I closed my account and let Ebay host them instead.  It's much easier that way and the Ebay template is simple to use.

TOMORROW:  Writing Your Listing

Monday, February 22, 2010

My eBay Store / Ebay Fee Structure Changes

This week begins a lot of work for me.  I have had an Ebay store for almost two years and have really enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, managing my store and having sales.  It's been a nice extra income for our family as well and so convenient to work from home in my spare time.  Ebay recently announced that it is  changing its fee structure beginning March 30 and I was debating what to do with my store.  I was a one-time PowerSeller and could turn it into a full-time business but my home schedule will not allow it at this time. 

I have to say that I was quite disappointed with Ebay for the drastic changes that will affect primarily the smaller store sellers like me.  I usually keep about 200 items in my store at any one time, but Ebay seems more interested in maintaining its mega-stores instead of the smaller ones.   Nevertheless,  I am going to give it a try for three months to see if I can keep it profitable. The primary bonus factor in the new eBay changes is the better exposure when someone searches for an item to purchase.  That alone, could increase my sales quite a bit.  We'll see. 

Beginning this week, I will start weeding out inventory and hopefully, list some new items as well.  In tomorrow's blog, I will begin teaching and showing you how to list items on eBay in a step-by-step process.  Come along for the ride and see if you can at least get rid of a few items around the house that you no longer need! 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Week as Juror: The Aftereffects / The Future

This is my last article from my week as a juror...

Aftereffect:  an effect that follows after the primary action of something 

A trial like this one can create some aftereffects.  Actually, even during the trial I experienced one--I threw up over the weekend before we deliberated.  I think that not being able to discuss it with anyone for that long a time caused this.  (No one else in my family even had a slight stomach ache and we all ate the same foods.)    Maybe that's why women live longer than men, in general, because we tend to discuss and talk things out more.

Our juror "family" has been keeping in touch over the week.  Some have experienced nausea, crying, uneasiness, fear, anxiety and sleeplessness.  The crisis counselors told us to expect this and that it was normal and should subside over time.  It was surprising to all of us though, including myself.  I thought I was desensitized to this sort of thing after seeing it in movies, TV, action programs, etc.  The differentiating factor was that this was real life and not make-believe, not makeup nor touched up photos, and real people portrayed the "parts"  that we could see and hear rather than actors on a screen in front of us.

It's been six days since the trial and thankfully, I am MUCH better and calmer.  I hope and pray that the rest of the jurors are as well.  I have been praying for them by name for that.  When we see each other again, and I'm sure that some of us will, I hope we have good things to remember, think  and talk about.  It was my sincere pleasure to serve with these dear people.

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past. 
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert."
(Isaiah 43: 18-19)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Week as Juror: The Jury --Deliberations

Continuing on with my thoughts about serving on a jury last week...

Deliberations: This occurs after a trial when a jury goes into its assigned private room to think about and discuss evidence and testimony to help it reach a verdict.

After both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases, the judge then asked the deputy to escort us all to the jury room to begin deliberations.  She asked for two of the men to remain behind--the alternates were now named. They were not allowed to go back to the jury room.  The deputy gathered their things and we never saw them again.  There were now 7 men and 5 women, 12 in all, to decide a verdict from multiple charges.

Another surprise to each of us was that the judge told the deputy to take our cell phones.  Most everyone quickly called home to make arrangements or to let our families know we were beginning and they would not be able to call in nor could we call out.  No one asked, but my iPod Touch in my purse.  Since I had been accessing Wi-Fi via the courthouse, I could not send email, check my Facebook or my blog (they block these transmissions), but I COULD have received email (of course, I did not).  

The deputy brought in all the physical evidence that had been presented as well as our menu order sheets so we could order our lunch.  Later that evening we also ordered dinner as well and continued talking during our meals.  While we were waiting for lunch to arrive I asked if anyone objected if I prayed for our deliberations.  No one did and in fact, seemed glad for me to do so. :)  We certainly needed all the Help we could get.

We began discussing our notes at 1:30 p.m.  We went around the table and each person gave a synopsis of what we thought in general, about the case, as well as any questions raised, based on our memories and the notes we had taken.  We elected a foreman and he began writing the important elements on large sheets of paper (a few jurors helped tape them up on the walls all around us).  By the time we reached a verdict, 8 hours later, three of the 4 walls were filled with these note charts.  The foreman was wise in having us vote on items line by line that we unanimously agreed upon.  These were so helpful in reaching a verdict because if you agree on  A and B, then it is logical to agree upon C...

We stayed in that little room from 1:30 - 9:30 p.m. before we reached a unanimous verdict of guilty.  It had to be unanimous.  We did not know that previously this same case had gone into mistrial because the jury was deadlocked.   There was much information that we had not been told which, in my estimation would have made deliberations go much more quickly.   But, the law is the law, and there are certain technicalities that must be abided.  

The foreman completed the paperwork and we knocked on the door to tell the deputy that we had reached a verdict.  He seemed quite surprised.  We returned to the jury room.   Just like in the movies:  "Have you reached a verdict?  We have, Your Honor. Will the defendant please rise?"   The judge read the verdict and handed it to the Clerk who read it aloud.  Another surprise--the defense attorney said "Poll the jury" which meant that each of us had to be asked individually (by juror number, not by personal name) what our verdict was.  I imagine that is to make sure that no one was coerced in to agreeing or to intimidate someone to bail out of the consensus.  It didn't work. We all stood by our agreement.  Then we were taken back to the jury room. 

We did not hear the judge sentence the defendant, but she did during that short time. Afterwards, she came into the jury room to hand us our Appreciation Certificates and give us information about crisis counseling. Two counselors accompanied her to our room.  This is an excellent service--I have heard of it when there are shootings on college campuses but had never been introduced to it.  It may be helpful for some in the future and definitely was that evening.

The deputies walked us all to the parking lot to avoid contact with the family and the media and we all headed  home by 10:30 p.m.  

It was a week that I will never forget.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Week as Juror: The Jury --Courtroom Procedures / Book Interviews

Quote for the Day:
The mark of a good parent is that s/he can have fun while being one.  (Marcelene Cox)
Continuing with my thoughts about serving on jury duty last week...

Once the final jury is selected, we took our seats in the jury box at the front left of the courtroom.  The clerk had us raise our right hands and swear to the solemn oath.   We were given our juror badges (necklace type)  to wear while in the courthouse.  The trial began after  we had lunch that day since the selection process had taken so long.

After lunch we were taken to the jury room by the court deputy.  The jury room itself was fairly small with no windows and one door. Just large enough for a long conference table with 12 swivel chairs, nothing on the walls, no clock or pictures, an easel with a flip-pad for making charts and two bathrooms.  Ours was a little warm so we had a fan brought in on the last day.  There was usually water (hot and cold) and coffee with condiments on the table.  We could open the door to summon the deputy but no one could come into our room since it was locked from the outside.  A deputy sat outside the jury room at all times.

Sometimes the wait to go to the courtroom was a few minutes; most often it was 15-30 minutes to an hour before we were summoned.  When we were called, the deputy unlocked the room we were in.    He would open the door to the courtroom and say "the jury is now present".  Everyone would stand up for us and then when we took our seats, they would sit down.  I always thought they did this for the judge like you see on TV (when the bailiff says "all rise"...). They may do that as well, but we were never present when the judge entered the courtroom.

We were given legal pads and pens and took notes as needed, which in this trial, were voluminous.  The prosecuting attorney(s) went first with their witnesses and evidence. This took 3 days.  The defense attorney then presented his case. The evidence is varied--lots of photos, recorded interviews, printed transcripts, physical exhibits of all kinds, timelines, expert and law enforcement witnesses.   Closing arguments were the last morning and lasted for about 3 hours.

Again, we were not allowed to discuss anything with each other for  7 days until deliberations began (this trial resumed on Monday after the weekend), so you can imagine how "bottled up" we were (especially we women who need our 25,000 words a day and in this case, more like 50,000!).  

TOMORROW:  Deliberations
On a side note, I am in another book!  I complete forgot about this from several months ago.   

1.  Macs in the Ministry, by David Lang.

Here's an excerpt:

Email is now so ubiquitous as a communication medium it almost seems mundane. Yet the fact that so many people now use and check email regularly makes it one of the most effective forms of communication you can use. Beyond your day-to-day activities of communicating by email, all of which serve to promote your ministry at some level, consider using email as a way to publicize events, needs, praise reports, and prayer requests.

Every Thursday, Orlando Grace Church sends out its E-News, an email newsletter produced by one very dedicated volunteer. Tonya Travelstead collects a dizzying amount of information and uses her Mac to compile it into a PDF, which she mails to anyone who asks to receive it. The E-News begins with a devotional thought from the Senior Pastor, followed by a summary of the previous week’s sermon, a question and answer from the catechism, prayer requests and praise reports (including instructions for how to pray for various unreached people groups), a calendar of the week’s activities, announcements from various small group ministries, a listing of expecting mothers and their due dates, the latest reports from missionaries and ministries the church supports, and even listings of items people need, want to sell, or are willing to give away. As if all that weren’t enough, a separate email includes additional photos of people and events mentioned in that week’s E-News.

As should be obvious, the E-News has become the central form of communication for Orlando Grace Church. It’s so informative that members of the congregation who move away or begin attending other churches still ask to receive it.

2.  The other book for which I was interviewed last year was Hired @ Home by Sarah Hamaker.  She interviewed me about having a home business.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Week as Juror: The Jury --Who Are These People?

Continuing with my thoughts about serving on jury duty last week...

For our jury, 14 people were selected--12 jurors and 2 alternates.  The alternates do not know who they are until the deliberations begin on the last day.  That way, they are able to hear all the evidence in case one of them needs to step in for another juror in the event of sickness, accidents, etc.  Our final group of twelve jurors consisted of 5 women and 7 men.

To help us remember each other's names I brought in index cards which we folded in half to make name plates for ourselves.  This really helped us get to know each other better throughout the week by calling each other by name.

Who are we?  It was quite interesting that we were a group with a variety of ages (25-60+), ethnic groups, interests, jobs, married, unmarried, kids, no kids, college students... Everyone was courteous, thoughtful and kind to each other. There was no arguing, teasing or flirting going on.  We often ate lunch together and were with each other generally from 9-5 each day, one day from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and the last day from 9:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m.   We were all conscious that our decisions could change the defendant's life and took our juror job very seriously.  We were not allowed to talk about the case until the very last day so we covered a myriad of other topics when we had breaks or returned to the jury room for some other reason.

There was an incident during this trial in which one of us was questioned separately from the others.  When the person returned, obviously shaken up, everyone rallied to the rescue to comfort and reaffirm that the person had done the right thing and certainly had done nothing wrong.  The level of concern for each other and what we were each going through was very obvious and heartwarming to me.

As in any "crisis" situation, the 12 of us became quite bonded together during the 5-6 days we served.  When the trial was over and sentencing pronounced by the judge, we all hugged each other as we separated and headed toward our homes.  Most exchanged emails to keep in touch with each other via email or Facebook. I hope that continues, particularly if there are more aftereffects from this trial which was a homicide case.

TOMORROW:  Courtroom Procedures

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Week as A Juror: The Jury Selection Process

Little did I know when I received the court summons for jury selection a month or so ago, how much would happen over the time that I served as a juror.  Since this is fresh in my mind from that last week, I'll blog for the next few days about my experience.  This may help someone else to know what to expect and to be prepared if you should get summoned.  I had never participated in a jury before so these things would have been good to know before I went.  Plus, it's therapeutic for me to collect my thoughts and put them down as well.

Once you get your letter in the mail, if you do not meet any of the exemptions, mark on your calendar the date you are to appear for selection and be sure to go.  I believe it is a misdemeanor to not show up.   You are assigned a number.  Be sure to memorize it.  I actually had it memorized but had not made a point to do so.  There were a  few instances during the week that I was spoken to by that number rather by my name, and was caught offguard.  I was so glad it was in the recesses of my mind.

When you enter the courthouse you will have to pass through a metal detector / X-ray scanner.  Over the past 6 days I was scanned at least 7x plus "wand-ed" (the deputy used a hand-held scanner on me after I had taken my shoes off).  I kept setting off the alarm with just my clothes and underwear on!  My own body is sensitive to these scanning devices so I will need to visit my holistic medical friend to get "un-scanned" for my body to not be affected negatively.  

Next you go into a large room--ours held 250 people--and you are asked a series of questions as a group.  If your answer is "yes" to any of them, you get in a line and are questioned individually by the clerk.  If you pass this series of questions, then you are divided into a few groups of about 30 each to go to separate jury rooms to be questioned for a jury.   In the jury rooms (in my case), 21 are seated in the jury box at a time and are asked all sorts of questions by the prosecuting attorney(s) and the defense attorney(s).  More eliminations are made, then the next group does the same thing and so on until the attorneys have chosen 14--12 jurors and 2 alternates.  I was in Group 2 of this process.   By the way, even if you are chosen in any of the selection times, you can still be "unchosen" for the final 14 (12 jurors; 2 alternates).  And, you can also be asked to go to another jury selection room to go through the process again there.

In my case also, this process did not end until lunchtime on  Day 2.  After lunch that 2nd day, the actual trial began.

Tomorrow:  The Jury Itself--Who Are These People?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jury Duty -- Verdict: Guilty

After the last 6 days of jury duty I'm taking today off but will resume on Wednesday writing for a few days about my week as a juror on a homicide case.  In case you are wondering, after 8 hours of deliberation we found the defendant guilty of felony murder and aggravated child abuse.  He was sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole (murder charge) and was also sentenced to another 30 years as well (child abuse charge).  

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday: Happy Valentines Day to You!

Happy  Valentines Day!  

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39)

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (1 Corinthians 1: 1-7)

A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendships, all the enjoyment of sense and reason-and indeed all the sweets of life.   Joseph Addison

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.   Donna Roberts

A happy man marries the girl he loves; a happier man loves the girl he marries.  --Anonymous

Don't marry so you can stop pursuing women. Marry so you can perfect the pursuit of  one woman  for a lifetime.- John Piper

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