Jury Duty: Part One

Are there any two words more loved in the English language than “Jury Duty”?

No?

I was called to jury duty this week for what feels like the millionth time. I get called every year, rain or shine. It’s terrible. But that’s neither here nor there. I usually only have to call in everyday and luckily for the last few years I have not been called into the courthouse. No such luck this year.

I got called in and dutifully arrived at the obscenely early time of 7am. What? I am not a morning person.
The parking is terrible so the early hour is necessary if I want parking, so the recorded voice strongly suggested getting there well before our 7:45am call time.

After a long line to get into the courthouse we all shuffle into the jury lounge and take our seats. And now the waiting begins…

A half hour later a very nice lady steps up to a microphone and starts telling us that she will be with us in a moment. If we could just direct out attention to the nice jury duty video she will be with us when the video concludes.

Dear God,there is a jury duty video? I do not remember this from my last jury duty journey to the courthouse.(well over 5 years ago). I am sure that there was no need for a video.

The video is a wonderfully cheesy video that explains all the joys and rules that are included in jury duty.

“You will need no special training to be a juror” the narrator intoned, “But you will follow the jury rules”
Oh I will, will I? I guess it depends on those rules disembodied voice!

“You will not prejudge any of the people, evidence or entities involved in any of the trials”
What, but prejudging people and things is one of my strongest talents!

“You will not investigate a case on your own during or after the trial”
Wait, does this actually happen? Has any juror really tried to go all CSI by themselves on the court system?

“You will use your everyday common sense to weigh the evidence”
Yes, because common sense is working for so many people these days. This is an excellent barometer, thanks disembodied voice.

“Behind closed doors it is our duty to give your opinion and speak up….”
Finally one I can do! I am totally opinionated and have no issues sharing them with people. I bet I could even share it in a way to manipulate people to my side, like in all those jury movies… Wait… what else did the voice say?

“…And you need to listen to everyone else’s opinion as well”.
Damnit! I have a much harder time doing that part of the rule.

Next the video moves on to former juror interviews:

Video Juror 1: “I loved jury duty; it made me feel good about myself”

Video Juror 2: “I was worried about how to properly be a juror, and sitting in the jury box in a courtroom. But I bought a book and everything went well in the courtroom after I did that”
Wait, did you read through the trial? Cause I can do that. If you couldn’t then this quote makes no sense.

Video Juror 3: “Jury duty made me proud to do my civic duty and made me feel better about myself.”

Video Juror 4: “I loved jury duty, it felt good”.

Ok, if I have a healthy (some may say overly inflated) self esteem may I leave?

This video has not really cleared anything up for me. But after the credits roll (yes there were credits) the nice lady steps up the microphone again.

“Hello, and thank you for coming to serve. Please pull out your summons and turn it over. There you will see the reasons for disqualification for jury service. If you fit any of these criteria please come see us at the desk. If you do not fit these criteria please tear your badge off the summons and put it in the plastic badge holder provided”.

I pull out my juror summons and try to be very careful at separating the perforated edges from the piece of paper. Slowly I get one corner detached, I move to the next side. This is much harder. I rip one corner, but just barely. Maybe if I do the rest well no one will see the tear through the badge holder.
20 minutes later I have a completely ripped and jagged edged badge separated from the summons.

Maybe I have found the next disqualification reason – can you correctly detach the juror badge? NO? Then you are not smart enough to serve on a jury.

Next blog post: Rules for the jury lounge television

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