Not quite five years ago and back in 2014 I was called in for Jury Duty. I do it, but let’s be clear: It ain’t fun to spend your day sitting around and -as has been the case in the three previous times I have done jury duty- not get called in and essentially waste your whole day.
What’s irritating is that I’m seeing myself, my wife, and my kids getting these Jury Duty notices more frequently than it seems anyone else in our circles, be they family or friends.
Is my last name simply tagged more often? After marrying, my sisters no longer have the same last name so maybe it is something like that.
I know, I know: I shouldn’t whine. This is a civic duty. But, seriously, last time I got Jury Duty was a little less than five years ago and in all that time I haven’t seem/heard of any of my family/friends getting called in once, much less twice (and, counting my wife and daughters, four more times!).
So today was the big day. The wife and I spent Sunday morning heading downtown to see where the Court House was and where, in relation to it, the public parking was located. We needed to do this because the last Jury Duty I did was in a different location and not downtown.
I had the address of the parking lot nearest the Court House set and programmed into my car (A side note: Teslas have a truly wonderful navigation system) and this morning got up bright and early and headed out there.
The weather was good but severe rain/thunderstorms were predicted. I beat the major rush hour traffic into the city and got to the public parking closest to the Court House. I found myself a nice spot, parked, and headed down to the ground level.
So far so good.
I walked to the Court House some two/three blocks away, climbed the steps up, went through the metal detector, and was directed to the Jury waiting room on the second floor. There, my “badge” (it was part of the Jury Duty summons) was scanned and, along with the crowd there, sat down to wait.
I arrived a little before 8 A.M. and suspected we were given this hour so that stragglers would make it in before 9 A.M., when things really began in the courts. A judge eventually appeared, made sure we were American citizens and above the age of 18, then told us about the beauty of serving. It was clear, like the last time, that she knew full well no one here was happy about being in this place, yet tried to make us comfortable. Interestingly and unlike the last time I did jury duty (you can read up on that here, by the way), not once did she or anyone else working there apologize for having us here.
I was somewhat surprised by the sparse amount of people in the Jury room. Last time around there weren’t that many either but this time it seemed positively deserted, and the Jury waiting room, I believe, was smaller in this building than the other I went to last time.
When she was gone, the videos monitors showed The Greatest Showman and I settled in for a bright musical…
I hate musicals.
A little after 9 A.M, perhaps no later than 9:20, a group of jurors are selected and sent out of the room. I brought a book and my iPad but wound up spending my time reading the book.
At just a little after 10 A.M., a second group was called on. They do the calling by listing the last four digits of your Jury summons number, then calling out your name. They did apologize in advance if the pronunciation of the name wasn’t quite right.
They called one person after another, perhaps some twenty five or so people and then…
…they called me.
I was something like the third to the last person called. I put away my book and walked out of the waiting area and into the outside hallway. As I said, some three more people or so joined us and, once outside, the lady who did the initial calling appeared and said:
“I will call out your numbers now. Please announce you are present. Once you have done so, you are dismissed and may leave.”
She spoke really softly and I was at the end of the group and only caught the “dismissed and may leave” part. I had to ask her to repeat what she said.
“I will call out your number and, once you have announced you are present, you are dismissed and may leave. Tomorrow you can log on to the Jury selection website to obtain your certificate stating you have performed your Jury Duty.”
I could have cried.
For most of my life it seems I’ve been living under a dark cloud. Don’t get me wrong: A lot great things have happened to me in my life. But there are these things that happen, these burst of bad luck… it seems like I step into it more often than I wish.
Not so this time around.
The lady read off number after number and finally, toward the end, got to mine (she read off the same numbers in the same order as she did in the waiting room, so I was near the bottom in both cases). When my number was read out, I told her I was “present” and she nodded and I said “Thank you” and she said “You’re welcome” and I headed out.
Come to think of it, I think I was the only one to say that to her. The others that were called before me said they were present and spun around and left so quickly all that remained were tumbleweeds and dust.
(Lest you think otherwise, I probably did the very same!).
So in total, I was there from a little before 8 A.M. to about 10:20 A.M., two hours and twenty minutes, and my Jury Duty was done.
I can only guess today happened to be one of those days when there were few cases before the court. Perhaps most of those that were on the docket were resolved or delayed until another day. Perhaps, as we’re in the last days of summer vacation, many lawyers and judges are not around and fewer cases are being dealt with.
Given the small amount of people in the Jury waiting room to begin with and very few people I saw as I headed downstairs and back out to the street, it did look like things were very slow this day at the Court House.
I don’t know if the others in the waiting room or that first group that was called up remained behind. For all I know and while I write this in the early afternoon, they might still be there. Jury Duty, one of the announcers said, officially lasts from 8 to 5 P.M.
Perhaps the people in my group just happened to get lucky and there were simply too many people there today and we were the ones that weren’t needed.
Regardless, at least for today and for once, it looks like I wasn’t stuck under that all too familiar dark cloud.