Explanation: Well it took a number of years, but I had my first experience with jury duty yesterday. I was on call for the morning, but then I had to go in for the afternoon session. Here's a timeline of how it went down:
12:30 PM: I arrive at the courthouse parking lot and wolf down the Taco Bell value meal I bought on the way. At home I usually eat a meal every two to three hours, so I was pretty worried about surviving an entire afternoon without sustenance.
12:50 PM: I walk into the jury room, feeling bloated from my Mexican feast and clinging to my tub of Mountain Dew. The first thing I discover is that it's "Juror Appreciation Week" and they have a spread of free food and beverages for people on jury duty. At this point in time, the mere appearance of food makes me feel ill.
12:52 PM: After checking in, I take my seat in the front of the jurors' room where they have two televisions showing "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" There are also computers for jurors' use and a large number of books available. Of course, I brought a book, so I'm good.
1:00 PM: "Millionaire" ends and a daytime soap opera comes on. I'm suddenly very uncomfortable sitting that close to the television.
1:02 PM: Court Lady #1 puts in a DVD about how a courtroom works. Surprisingly, the acting is much better than in the soap opera she turned off.
1:10 PM: The video ends and Court Lady #2 spends five minutes taking attendance. There are 54 of us. Then we all proceed up to the 6th floor where the courtroom is.
1:15 PM: Outside the courtroom, there are about a hundred jurors, some from the previous session. We wait patiently. Some of us who may have just finished chugging our tub of Mountain Dew are relieved to discover that there are restrooms there.
1:20 PM: We are shepherded into an unused courtroom, where we are told we will wait for 20 minutes until the judge is ready for us.
1:30 PM: Whiny lady in front of me complains that she has to pick up her kids at school and there's no way she can be on a jury.
2:00 PM: We are told that the lawyers are still working with the previous group of jurors and it may be a while longer.
2:12 PM: Court Lady #3 pulls a copy of "My Cousin Vinny" out from the Clerk's desk and plays it for us on the large court monitor.
2:15 PM: Whiny lady in front of me complains again that she has to pick up her kids at school and there's no way she can be on a jury.
2:41 PM: Whiny lady in front of me complains again that she has to pick up her kids at school and there's no way she can be on a jury.
2:43 PM: Whiny lady in front of me makes a phone call where she tells someone else they have to pick up the kids.
3:10 PM: Whiny lady in front of me complains that she has to pick up her kids at school tomorrow and there's no way she can be on a jury.
3:30 PM: The judge will see us now. We proceed to the courtroom next door. It is amazing how many times you can tell a large group of people to "not leave any empty seats" before they realize that you are talking to them. I certainly hope isn't a jury of MY peers.
3:37:02 PM: "All rise for the Honorable So-and-So."
3:37:04 PM: "Please be seated."
3:37:05 PM: Major head rush accompanied by sudden leg cramps.
3:38 PM: The Honorable So-and-So explains the details of the case and introduces the lawyers and the defendant.
3:39 PM: The Honorable So-and-So says you should come up and talk to him if any of the following four conditions apply...
3:46 PM: It took so long to explain the four conditions, I had forgotten the first two by the time he was done. I remember desperately hoping that I would know a witness so I could be excused. No luck, though.
3:47 PM: A parade of people walk up to the bench one by one to tell the judge why they're too good for jury duty.
4:30 PM: We are dismissed for the day and have to return at 10:00 AM tomorrow.
And there you go. In conclusion, the justice system works and I've never been more proud to serve as a citizen of this wonderful country of ours.
Thursday, September 18, 2008