Monday, June 30, 2014

Jury Duty Experience

The summons had me calling in daily, after 5 PM, starting June 20, which meant my life was on hold all week.  I had to cancel appointments as I wouldn't know until the last minute if they could be kept.  Every day, when I called, I breathed a sigh of relief as my number was not called.  But, I knew when I hung up on Tuesday Thursday would be my day to report.  I was thankful to be assigned to civil court as criminal proceedings scare the crap out of me.  Besides, I don't think I am capable of deciding a life changing fate for anyone.

The recording told me to report at 9.  Being conscientious I got there at 8:50 and saw a line a half block long.  I waited and it got longer.  I sat until there was no more line and entered at 9:20.  The court  officer glared at us as if we were the prisoners and gave instructions in a very stern, no nonsense voice.  She entertained no questions.  While this was quite intimidating, I saw her point after a few minutes.  People are just plain dumb.

The first thing she said was if anyone was accompanying a juror, they should come forward. A woman got up with a baby.  At least ten people, all alone, got up to talk to her.  After finding out they were potential jurors and alone, she had them sit.  She said again, no questions yet but one man would not sit and kept going up to talk to her.  They collected juror summonses and then had people with problems line up.  Some were real but I am sure many were made up.  The number who claimed to not speak English was amazing.

After all this we sat.  Some people were called.  A 100 year old judge came in to address us.  He was kind of F status, retired but still working, collecting a pension and a hefty paycheck.  He emphasized how important we were and how we were respected but respect seemed to be lacking from many of those working there.  He said we hadn't lived until we were part of a jury.  This is one part of life I don't mind not living.  We didn't know how long we would be there.  It could be until 5, but not likely as most judges do not like working full days. (It didn't matter what we liked.)   We could be spending one day or two weeks.  But respectfully treatment of jurors is utmost.  (I do get they don't know but it is still discerning not to know.)

The wait in the jury room was long.  They did show Mrs. Doubtfire on television, there are computers, books, magazines and wifi and the chairs aren't too bad.  Still, not the way most of us would choose to spend the day.  At noon they switched to World Cup game which was an improvement.  My nap was interrupted when it was announced the US team would move on.

Lunch was from 1 to2.  At 2:30 they let people called but not picked this morning go home. It would have been nice if they let them go an hour and a half earlier. They only called one jury all day.  I'm no expert, but there has got to be a better way.  At 3:30 they sent us all home and told us we were finished with jury duty for at least 4 years.  Again, I could not believe how many people asked the court officer if they had to show up the next day.

I thought about blowing this day off.  I was sick and know I could have gotten a doctor's note.  I'm glad I didn't.  One day, no panel, was more than enough for me.

No comments: