Let me start by saying it’s absolutely horrible what human beings do to one another. The devastation, the destruction… the pain, the death. Why do we do this to one another?
So… jury duty.
This was not one of my favorite days. While I have never ever been summoned for jury duty, I can’t imagine that the process I went through today (and will continue next Monday) is the best or most organized process out there. It can’t be.
I was to be at the courthouse at 1:30PM per the summons. If I was late or failed to show I would be fined up to $500 and maybe given a free ride to the county hotel. Knowing that I have a tendency to get lost, I left really early. It’s a good thing I did. I arrived in the area of the courthouse at 12:30… there’s a ton of construction going on right now so accessing the parking lot designated for jurors was a trick. But I made it. And there was a huge line going in already. I found a nice handicap parking spot under a shady tree and sat in my car playing a stupid game that I am highly addicted to. I think I played until 12:50 or so then thought I should head on in to the building. I survived the security process, found the restroom for a last pee break and went into the auditorium we were to congregate in. All 500+ of us. When I first entered, I think there was about 75 +/- folks in there… the temperature was nice and the room was adequate. As the next 45 minutes went by, the room filled up…beyond capacity. In fact, I bet if the fire marshal had been around… well.
So 1:30 comes… and goes. People are still coming in. 1:45 comes…and goes… people are still coming in. I wonder if they are all going to be fined up to $500? 2:00 comes… and goes. You guessed it… people still coming in. Finally… finally at about 2:30 one of the courthouse folks comes in and tells we are going to watch a video before proceeding. Sheesh. A video? It was all about the supreme privilege it is to serve as a juror. A history of the judicial system was included for our viewing pleasure. The whole thing was about 20 minutes. When it was over we were told a rep from the district clerk’s office would be in to speak with us in a few minutes.
By then I’d been sitting in a hot, bad breath infested room of 500+/- people for almost 2 hours. We all still have no clue what is next or when. About 20 minutes goes by as I sat amongst this room of strangers in little bitty seats probably procured for an elementary school auditorium that only fits a frail person of 80 lbs comfortably… at last, a gentleman entered the room and began asking us about the courthouse. Do we like it? Are we comfortable? We should make a point of visiting the district clerk’s office while we’re there. right. I’m sure there are all sorts of exciting things going on in there…. bleh. I’m thinking that guy probably worked for the tourism bureau before the courthouse, or maybe the Chamber of Commerce.
This guy told us about the exemptions for jury duty, none of which matched me. Unfortunately. 70 or older, child under the age of 12, invalid requiring total care in the home, etc. At the end of his talk, he let us know the Judge would be in shortly. There was a collective sigh… which only added to the foggy haze of bad breath hanging in the poorly ventilated room. If there is a suggestion box I’m going to leave a note that breath mints, gum, toothbrushes/paste should be passed around in goody bags.
The Judge showed up about 15 minutes later. He apologized for making us wait and explained there are lots of things going on behind the scenes that we can’t be told about until we are actually in a courtroom. Okay. Then he asked us about the courthouse. Is it too old? Do we need a new one? That would cost tax money which means a raise in taxes. Do we like the courthouse? LOL Then the Judge told us how excited he was to see us all and that we should feel honored to be sitting in that room waiting to provide a service to our country. Like any of us had a choice in the matter ha! Provide the service or go to the slammer…. The Judge’s final remarks were to let us know he would be hearing from people with other hardships and would decide if they could be excused from serving our country in this honorable job. Before he let us decide, he told us that they planned to seat 245 jurors by the end of the day and he was not sure how lenient he could be with excuses.
Just before he walked off the “stage” to hear excuses, he told us that we could take a 30 minute break…. ginormous collective sigh… the fog of bad breath thickens. Everyone just really wanted to get on with it already.
I went outside for some fresh air and to see if I had a respirator mask in my car. No such luck.
Finally, around 4:15 they started calling out groups of names. First group 75 or so, second about 20, third and fourth about 30, and the last two of around 75 each. I was in the 2nd to the last group.
And shame on me for thinking this was the end of things. Shame on me for thinking I would know today if I was to be selected as a juror on a panel.
I am to report to the 206th District courtroom next Monday morning for jury selection. District court. That’s the big one. Murderers, rapists, baby stealers, muggers… and all that means a long trial. Great. I will serve my country. I will do my duty. I am sure I will enjoy it as well. I’m sure I will find it quite interesting.
But what a pain in the ass.