Dispatches From A [Potential] Juror

November 19, 2008

* The names and dates have been changed to protect the innocent.

Time: 7:46 pm, Thursday, October 30th, a few weeks until jury duty

Receive jury duty summons in mail.  Turn in jury questionnaire with big letters written on it, “YES!  First time!!”

Time: Some time between October 30th and November 10th

Misplace jury duty summons.  Remember that summons said November 11th, 8:15 am.  Question the accuracy of this due to the holiday (Veteran’s Day) but do not attempt to call courthouse.

Brag to everyone repeatedly that performing the highest civic service other than serving in armed forces on November 11th.

Time:  9:47 pm, Monday, November 10th

11 hours, 13 minutes until jury duty: Raid room, er, conduct mission to find misplaced jury duty summons to confirm that, yes, jury duty is tomorrow albeit (stupid) municipal holiday.

10 hours, 01 minutes until jury duty: Resolve that jury duty summons is missing.

7 hours, 15 minutes until jury duty:  Attempt to go to sleep.  Pass the time by contemplating the huge ethical and moral issues that may face in courtroom tomorrow.

6 hours, 45 minutes until jury duty:  Toss and turn.  Remember colleague’s advice to count backwards in French from 100 if can’t fall asleep.  Start counting backwards in French.  Get to soixante dix neuf.  Realize left photo ID 30 miles away at Mom & Dad’s house.

5 hours, 15 minutes until jury duty:  Find expired license.

5 hours until jury duty:  Return to bed.

4 hours, 30 minutes until jury duty:  Fall asleep.

0 hours, 15 minutes until jury duty:  Wake up.

Time:  8:10 am, Tuesday, November 11th

Arrive at courthouse.  Get funny look from security guard.  “It’s a holiday, you fool.  Come back another time.”

Time:  Some time between November 11th and November 19th

Explain to people that misread jury summons.  Continue to brag that will soon perform greatest civic service second to serving in armed forces.  E-mail with jury office and receive new summons.  (Gotta love technology!)

Time: 8:16 pm, Tuesday, November 18th, 12 hours until jury duty

11 hours, 37 minutes until jury duty: Collect summons and ID and place it in bag.

9 hours, 30 minutes until jury duty: Stare longingly at the whiskey bottle. Haven’t been able to get anywhere by 8:15 am in quite awhile. Whiskey would help induce sleep. Probably not a good idea, however, to show up smelling like an alchy.

8 hours, 55 minutes until jury duty: Think about whether want to be called for a civil trial or criminal trial. Consider the ethical concerns of sitting for something like a triple murder.

8 hours, 47 minutes until jury duty: …glance back at whiskey bottle…

8 hours, 45 minutes until jury duty: Take sleep-inducing medication.

8 hours until jury duty: Check bag to make sure summons and ID still there.  (Good, they haven’t moved!) Remove cell phone from bag. Stuff book and a few other save-me-from-boredom activities into bag.

7 hours, 55 minutes until jury duty: Procrastinate on social networking site while waiting for sleep-inducing medication to kick in.

7 hours, 20 minutes until jury duty: Post videos on social networking site pretending to be someone else. *medication must be kicking in*

Time:  7:59 am, Wednesday, November 19th, 16 minutes until jury duty.

Wake up. Find clothes. Brush teeth. Eat a slice of cheesecake. (Healthy breakfast is essential to start a big day like this.)

Time:  8:10 am, Wednesday, November 19th, 10 minutes after jury duty starts.

Arrive at courthouse. (Late for everything else, why should jury duty, a civic service, be any different?)

0 hours, 11 minutes into jury duty: Get in security line behind drunk man. (Damn, could’ve drank that whiskey.)

0 hours, 17 minutes into jury duty: Swing by the breakfast table. Eat soft pretzel and drink industrial apple juice.

0 hours, 25 minutes into jury duty: Fill out forms with questions like: “Do you think you can serve Justice or is that God’s job?” “Do you ever call cops ‘the 5-0′ or ‘pigs’?” “Do you ever call criminals ‘scumbags’ or ‘slime of the Earth’?”  “If someone doesn’t say anything at all, does that mean she or he shouted, ‘I’m guilty!’?” [paraphrased]

0 hours, 45 minutes into jury duty: Watch rad video.

0 hours, 51 minutes into jury duty: Video interrupted for history lesson given by left-wing justice who had hopes of being a stand-up comedian. 1st mention of Country’s independence/forefathers.

0 hours, 54 minutes into jury duty: History lesson interrupted by construction worker who woke up at 4:00 am, who has no time for history lessons, and who wants to get this so-called “jury duty” out of the way because he has to be back to work by 5:00 pm.

1 hour, 1 minute into jury duty: Rad video back on.  2nd mention of Country’s independence/forefathers.

1 hour, 31 minutes into jury duty: Headmistress of [potential] jurors stand-up comedy act/power trip.

1 hour, 47 minutes into jury duty: Name is called.  Re-baptized as JUROR #5!!  Return to kindergarten, er, line up in two-by-twos.

2 hours, 1 minute into jury duty: Get escorted to jury room, er, hallway.

2 hours, 16 minutes into jury duty: Wait in congested hallway.

2 hours, 31 minutes into jury duty: Move to courtroom.

2 hours, 22 minutes into jury duty: Recognize Assistant District Attorney. (It’s true.  One night stands always come back to haunt you.  Even if they happened your Freshman year of college in a state far, far away.  And, yes, even if there was no sex involved.)

2 hours, 23 minutes into jury duty:  Wave that all-too-familiar wave of yeah-we-know-each-other-”hi,howareyoudon’treallycare.”

2 hours, 24 minutes into jury duty:  Watch A.DA & P.D. exchange looks.  Attempt to give public defender a look of “no, you don’t understand.  Don’t nix me!  I *want* to serve.  All these other people – they were in the hallway thinking of ‘undue hardships’ to say to get excused.  I volunteered in prison!  I’ve been a victim of a crime and I didn’t press charges because I didn’t want to ruin the guy’s life.  I was the president of the NLG at my law school.  Let me stay!”

2 hours, 25 minutes into jury duty:  Fill out more paperwork.  (Oh look!  “Have you ever kissed any of the judges, lawyers, or court personnel?”  Dude, it was freshman year of college!  He wasn’t even a good kisser!!)  Check the “yes” box but write in column – “know [redacted] from college.”  (We’ll leave it at that.)

2 hours, 33 minutes into jury duty: Rise as judge walks into room. Get sworn in.

2 hours, 42 minutes into jury duty: Listen to Judge’s speech about the importance of jury duty.  (Hear, hear, Sister!  Let’s get this party started!!) 3rd – 11th mentions of Country’s independence/forefathers.

3 hours, 01 minutes into jury duty:  Get shuffled into deliberation room (windows!).  Hear rules about waiting for colleague juror to finish using restroom before try to use restroom.  Directed to stay put by Bailiff – “the jurors will be called on and selected in order.”  No exceptions, blah, blah, blah.

3 hours, 4 minutes into jury duty:  Awkward silence.

3 hours, 5 minutes into jury duty:  Bailiff, “Though I just said that we will do everything in order, will juror #5 please come out to the courtroom.”

3 hours, 7 minutes into jury duty:  State name for record.  Judge: “So, we hear you know A.DA from college.”  “Yes, Your Honor.”  “You’re excused.”  Just like that?  (Question whether being part of a large college alumni association is really worth it.)

3 hours, 15 minutes into jury duty:  Return to pen, er, juror’s waiting room.  Dwell on the unfairness of this situation:  Jurors can’t make assumptions about a police officer because of his or her job.  Jurors get grilled all day about their potential biases and their abilities to reach a verdict based on the case at hand.  Then the justice system is allowed to make an assumption that a juror who – (fine!) may have attended the same undergraduate institution as the assistant D.A. and (fine!) may have kissed the ADA well before the assistant D.A. even decided to go to law school – is not qualified to make an impartial decision.  What about the fact that this same juror swore under oath numerous times about his or her ability to make an impartial decision?  What about the fact that this same juror has a professional responsibility as a licensed attorney to respect the justice system and the Sixth Amendment (well, Fourteenth Amendment because this was in state court)?

3 hours, 17 minutes into jury duty:  Play with save-me-from boredom activities to blow off steam.

3 hours, 31 minutes into jury duty:  Think about how this is actually a funny story (maybe in the guess-you-had-to-be-there sort of way).

3 hours, 45 minutes into jury duty:  Excused for lunch.

5 hours, 40 minutes into jury duty:  Return from lunch.

5 hours, 35 minutes into jury duty:  Passed over for attempt #2.

5 hours, 45 minutes into jury duty:  Excused to go home.

Time:  1:45 pm, Wednesday, November 19th.  Jury duty complete!

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5 Responses to “ Dispatches From A [Potential] Juror ”

  1. bucky_katz on November 19, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Love it.

    Coming from someone who works in the courthouse everyday, and helped pick 9 juries last week (8 criminal, 1 civil), I love to hear how other courts choose their juries. but the *best* part of my job has to be that I can hear all of the bench *i.e. secretive* conferences. During jury duty, if a juror has a conflict or question about whether they can serve, they come up to the bench and with the attorneys flanking them, they tell their secret. Some of them are boring (see: i have an out of town business meeting), while some are heartbreaking (see: i can’t serve on this sexual assault case because i was raped when I was 15.) But, never have I ever heard that potential jurors had relationships with either attorney (i know, i know, it wasn’t serious). I would expect more of that because we live in a small county. The closest relationship that potential jurors have had with the attorneys were that they either a)worked at the laundromat where they did their dry cleaning, or b)potential juror bought house from the DA. Sadly for you, BOTH were allowed to serve.

    I am *still* waiting to be called for jury duty for one time in my life!

  2. MrOink on November 20, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Yea, I’ve never served on a jury either. I’d like to. But I also have this fear of being put on a jury for a trial that goes on for months. Can that happen? I suppose it can.

    Actually, a question you might be able to answer bucky_katz: if a person were put on a jury and the trial was scheduled to last for months, would a person be excused if they would suffer substantial economic hardship? What does it take?

  3. stereocache on November 20, 2008 at 1:20 am

    what a letdown! but on the plus side now you get to explain to me how you have a one night stand with no sex. :)

  4. MrOink on November 20, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Very entertaining post, by the way.

  5. bucky_katz on November 22, 2008 at 10:54 am

    MrOink, very good question. We have just had 2 capital murder trials in my state, and each trial went on for about 6-10 weeks. Jury selection itself took about one month. But if say, you were the sole provider for your family, and if you were to incur severe economic hardship by not working (because we all know that jurors get paid terribly) you would be excused (I have seen that happen). Usually they have a large enough jury pool that they could afford to excuse you.

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