Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Slice of Life: Jury Duty

Tuesday, July 26, I had jury duty. I was not very happy when I received the notice in the mail. As a matter of fact, I put a great deal of effort into thinking of ways to get out of it. However, since I did not have a reasonable excuse,  the evening before I was to report, I called to see if my number had been pulled. The recording said, "All jurors with numbers 0001 to 0236 must report tomorrow morning." I was  number 0227.

I left my home on a gorgeous Tuesday morning to drive the thirty-five minutes to my county courthouse. The recording the night before, besides confirming that I needed to go, told me where to park. I went to the parking deck, and there was an entire section reserved for jurors. Nice! The courthouse was a short walk up the hill from the parking deck, and along with 235 other prospective jurors, I stood on line to go through security. Once inside we were put into a "Juror Selection" room. There we found comfortable seating, televisions, coffee, tea, wireless internet, an outside patio for the smokers, a couple of old telephone booths for privacy for a cell phone call, (cell phones were allowed) and bathrooms. I was impressed!  So I grabbed a cup of coffee, which was quite good, pulled out my knitting, and settled in for what I expected to be a very long day.

Two hours later, my name was called, along with about 49 others, to report to a courtroom for jury selection questioning. An extremely fit employee walked us the good quarter of a mile up and down staircases and down long corridors to Judge R's courtroom. It was an exceptionally long hike.  Once inside the courtroom, the case was explained to us and the jury selection questioning process began. Gone were the televisions, coffee, tea, wireless internet, an outside patio for smokers, and the use of cell phones. The most difficult part for me was that I had to sit there, for several hours, without being allowed to knit. So much good knitting time right down the drain. 

We broke for lunch shortly after noon, and resumed promptly an hour later. The number of prospective jurors was dwindling with each hour. Jurors were being dismissed for a variety of reasons: financial hardship, knowing someone involved in the case, having been involved in a similar case, needing to care for a child or adult family member, or one of the lawyers simply did not want that juror. There was also a procedure called "side bar," and many prospective jurors were excused at the side bar with reasons never known to the rest of us. 

The clock was approaching 4 P.M. There were six prospective jurors whose names had yet to be called for questioning. I was one of those six. We were beginning to believe that we were going to have to return the next day when the lawyers accepted the eight jurors presently sitting in the jury box. Yay! The judge told the remaining six of us that we were excused. He also told us that our day there fulfilled our jury duty obligation, and that we could not be called again for three years! Yay! Yay! Yay!

I arrived back home ten hours after I had left that day. I was exhausted, but I was also in awe of the entire process. My thoughts about jury duty had changed significantly. It was a positive experience, one that I will not think about "getting out of" the next time. When called again, I will proudly fulfill my obligation as a citizen of the United States of America.

 I wonder who won that case . . .


  1. Interesting description & you were almost chosen! I wonder why you couldn't knit? I liked that although it was a long day, you could see the value in it. I have done it several times, and never been called, but it does feel important. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well, Nearly every write-up which you create is gold. Your writing style is eloquent, revitalizing,and fairly interesting. Good to share with us.