Friday, September 19, 2008

What I learned at Jury Duty

I had Jury Duty this week, I actually liked it. Call me a dork, call me a nerd, call me a geek and I'll reply to any. I enjoy Jury Duty (or other types of Civic Responsiblity) because I like to see "how things work" and Jury Duty is one of those things where you get to see it from the inside out.

The day was pretty non-exciting. I showed up at the Court Building at 8:30 sharp, got my number and planted myself at a table where I expected to sit for the next several hours. Fortunately, my "Panel Number" was the first group of the day to be called - images of me telling the Judge "Guilty As Charged, Your Honor" flashed in front of my eyes. But alas, it was not to be.

We got upstairs to the Jury Room, sat around for 20 minutes and the Judge came in to give us a speech thanking us for our service, but the case had come to a settlement and that they wouldn't be needing us. We were going back to the Waiting Area.

After a brief 30 minutes we were on our way back to a Courtroom and while we were in transit, the Deputy said "I don't know why they're calling you, they just settled." STRIKE TWO!!!!

I gave up the thoughts of being called to serve on a Glamours Jury and instead took heed that we were just going to be using the elevator all day to go up and and down.

We were only in the Waiting Room for about 15 minutes when our number got called again, Third Times The Charm I kept repeating to myself. When we entered the courtroom - everyone was there. The lawyers, the Court Reporter (who btw, I want to be a Stenographer now), the Bailiff (who didn't look anything like Moose or Roz from Night Court). This was the big time! There was no settling in this case, it was going to Trial....whoo hooo!!!!!

They called the first 12 people to sit in the Jury box and the questioning began. They were asking silly questions like "What do you do for a living? Are you Married? Do you have Children?" I was hoping that it was just going to be on LA Law and they were going to intimidate the Jury and make them cry - TV LIES!!!!

They selected two people from the first round and sent them to the Jury Room, they sent 8 back to the jury pool via the back hallway and they dismissed two (I guess they were weeding out the unsavory). We went to lunch and after we returned they called the next 12, they called my name 8th, so I was Second Row, Second Seat.

Again with the silly questions "Uhm, no your honor I'm not married and btw, I'm not even in a long term relationship at this time, so if you know any hot boys tell them to call me" "Oh thank god, I don't have children - could you just IMAGINE (as my voice climbed an octave or two)" "I work your Honor, I work it EVERY DAY!"

When the Judge and Lawyers left the room to collaborate on who they were going to pick, everyone around me said "Oh we don't have to worry they've already got 10 people, they only dismissed 2 people from the first round." a few others mimicked that and I said "No, they only have 2, those 2 in the Jury Room, they dismissed 2 for the day and sent the other 8 back to the Jury Pool." Suddenly everyone got nervous because they thought they might get picked.

Sad to say, like most contests - my name was not called and I was asked to vacate the premises as soon as possible because my services were no longer needed. I don't know why they didn't pick me, maybe I wasn't gay enough?!?

But I did learn a few things about Jury Duty today:

  • TV Lies
  • People can't follow simple instructions (One Deputy told us about 15 times to wait for her at the end of the hall after we got off the elevator, people laughed about how many times she told us, but when we got off the elevator WTF did they do? Not wait where she told us to wait.)
  • People can't fill out forms, even when they're simple - like signing your name.
  • It's amazing how people dress, there is a total lack of respect. The interesting thing was to see the people that took it seriously that were not "professionals" dressed in their best because they were proud to be part of the Process.
  • People have no respect for the Judicial Process - I hope they never need to use it. The guy next to me in the Jury Box kept reaching in his bag to pull out pieces of candy and eating something that smelled terrible!
  • People who have nothing else to do (i.e. Unemployed people - remember they asked us what we did for a living - were the ones complaining the most about being there and that they had other things to do.
  • There were some funny lies that people tried to use to get out of Serving Jury Duty (funny thing, they were the ones that were picked...HA HA)
  • The only "fun" thing that happened was when the Judge said we were going to take a break, this woman in the back shouted "OH MAN" at which point the Judge (who up until this point had been very cool) turned into a bitch and said "Deputy, would you go find out what the problem is?" Apparently this woman was "trying to get out of here so I can pick up my kids from school", the Judge then picked up the Summons and said "Well, on the paperwork you received, it said you are to be available until at least 4:30 (and it was only 2:15) and you'll be here until it's finished. (I wonder if they called her name last, I know I would!!!)

So have you ever been called to Jury Duty? Did you serve?


Rod said...

I have been called as an alternate, but wasn’t picked and my experience wasn’t nearly as interesting as your day. Funny post!

I did have a coworker once who was picked for a trial to prosecute a gang leader. She said she became very anxious since there were lots of thugs and gang signing in the courtroom gallery. I don’t know how she did it, but she somehow got the judge to release her from the trial. Eventually the court declared a mistrial since she wasn’t the only one with concerns of physical harm.

Kezza said...

Okay, so you're a nerdish, dorky geek! But seriously, this sounds rather exciting to me. I haven't ever been called for jury duty but I believe the system over here in Australia isn't quite the same (read as far less exciting). Sorry you didn't get to serve on some wild ground breaking trial, that would have been quite fun!

The Big Finn said...

I've only received one summons for jury duty. I wrote a letter saying that I was not an American citizen, and sent it in with a copy of my Canadian passport. A short time later, I received a letter saying that I was excused from serving. However, I look forward to becoming a U.S. citizen someday and doing my civic duty.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your post about jury duty. I have been called FIVE times. I will admit I sort of enjoy it, but then my job pays me for jury duty. I get paid to read a book if I don't get called on a panel. Last time here in Cook County, I never left the jury pool room.

I have served on a jury once in AZ. It was an armed robbery case. It started two days before Thanksgiving and sort of screwed that up, but I will say it was interesting. As you mentioned it's nothing like TV. I could have editted it a lot better to make it a more fast-paced experience. Like your groups, they did not release people for any type of flimsy excuse, which was entertaining to see the looks on people's faces that are used to getting their way. After we heard evidence for two days, we went to the jury room to deliberate. The others were all ready to hang him, I mean fnd him guilty, immediately. Just to test my power of being a hold out, I told them I wasn't comfortable making a quick decision and wanted to sleep on it overnight. If looks could kill... lol. They didn't have a choice but to let me do that since I had to agree. In the end we found him guilty, and sleeping on it put me at ease with the decision. When you hold the future of someone's life in your hands like that, the weight of that decision can be heavy.

See ya at your party tonight.

Anonymous said...

No such luck here in Denver either..... hey picked the jury before they got to our numbers.... It could have been fun though.... the Judge was asking who though circumstantial evidence was something that could be used in trial - everyone said NO - she then castrated everyone for believing everything they saw on CSI - as it was evidence none the less.... no differentiating

The Sour Kraut said...

Yes, I've been summoned twice and served twice. I should play the Lotto.

Anonymous said...

I WANT to serve, but have never been called. :-/