Jury Duty



We operate under a jury system in this country, and as much as we complain about it, we have to admit that we know of no better system, except possibly flipping a coin. ~ Dave Barry

Is there anybody out there who actually likes serving on a jury panel? When you see the summons in the mail, do you look forward to going downtown and hope you will be selected?

I know no one like this. Certainly I’m not. They call it “duty” for a reason, and, of course, when duty calls, we must respond, however reluctantly.

This particular summons was for a Wednesday in February. Looking back, I can’t see a particular reason why I postponed it until April, but my calendar was pretty busy, and I guess I just didn’t want to take a chance that I would be selected for a drawn out case.

There the summons sat on my desk, filling me with dread (silly, I know). Part of it was the fact that the jury assembly room had moved to a new location, and I wasn’t exactly sure of where to park, etc. Yes, there was a map, but whenever I’m faced with driving myself to a new place, I always have a twinge of anxiety.

The other part of my dread was the above mentioned unknown of which courtroom I’d be assigned to. I intentionally left my calendar open for the next week, just in case! I like having a schedule, and I don’t like surprises.

Then there’s the getting up at the crack of dawn to take care of Tucker, dress up and drive with the masses to town in rush hour traffic. I honestly don’t mind traffic if I’m not in a hurry, so I got up extra early and gave myself an hour to get there, figure out where to park and find the new assembly room.

So far, so good. I was impressed with the new space, a VAST improvement over the old, cramped room. This one has tunnel access to all the courthouses, precluding group walks across busy streets in all kinds of weather.

Part of me hoped that my number wouldn’t be called at all, and I’d just get to go home. That happened once, and I donated my fee back. No such luck this time, however. My number was called for the first group out of the chute, a pool of 65 people. So I consoled myself that since we were starting earlier, we’d get finished earlier (with the hope that I wouldn’t get picked for the panel).

Off we went to get ourselves organized. From a pool of 65 people, they were going to select a jury of 12 with 1 alternate. I was assigned to be juror #43. That was a good sign; the higher your number is, the less likely it is that you’ll be selected.

In the courtroom on the 18th floor, I discovered that this was a felony murder case, and the judge spoke to us for over an HOUR about what we could expect, making sure we all understood the legal terms that the lawyers would be using. Actually, she was quite good, and I learned a great deal. It helped that she was self-deprecating and even made us laugh more than once.

Then it was time for the lawyers to speak, beginning with the prosecutor and finishing up with the defense attorney. Again, both were thorough, and I felt comfortable with the task that the selected jurors would be faced with.

But I still didn’t want to get picked. The judge said the case would likely take 4 days to try, beginning on Monday. I told myself I could probably manage, except for the fact that we have houseguests all next week. In a way, that would probably be a plus, because they could let Tucker in and out.

But, despite that, I STILL didn’t want to get picked. My fellow juror panel member #42 and I talked during a break, and we were both of the same opinion. Finally, the attorneys made their decisions, and they began calling out the numbers for the selected jurors.

#1, #3, #6… Yes, it seemed true that the folks with the lower numbers were more likely to be picked. But then they jumped to #25, #33, #39, #41… Yikes! There were still a few more positions to fill!

#42 and I looked at each other expectantly, and the next number called was #47. WHEW!!! I grabbed his arm, and we both exhaled.

By the time I exited the courthouse and walked to the parking garage, it was about 2:00. I hadn’t even thought about lunch, but all of a sudden, I was ravenous. But I went on home to rescue Tucker and eat my usual lunch there.

And then I stretched out on the sofa and dozed for a good long while. Since I had cleared this day (and the rest of the week!), I had nothing pressing to do for once. What a happy outcome!

One of these days, I know my luck will run out, and I’ll get picked. But for now, I’m celebrating my liberty and freedom (unlike the poor defendant whose fate will be determined next week without any input from me).

Whatever fee I receive for my service, I plan to do something nice with it, likely for some of my favorite people whom I deal with on a weekly basis. And that, my friends, will be another happy outcome to which I happily look forward!


(Note: pewperson is currently experiencing technical difficulties and will be getting a new computer. Likely her next post will be in three weeks, May 16)





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