Later, at the Hall of Justice…..

Filed under: @ 9:39 pm

Summoned for jury duty. Boss lady is incensed — well, not really. It’s more like she’s unwilling to make the sacrifice unless she absolutely has to.
I’d been called twice before and excused both times. The first because I was ordered to appear on the day we were moving from Kent to Normandy Park –um– no. The second time I was excused because I was ordered to appear on the day we were flying to Hawaii. Um… NO!
So I told the boss lady that they were unlikely to excuse me a third time and, despite the grade A sob story letter she sent on my behalf, they did not.

Why do it? Why comply?
A friend of a friend runs his jury summons through the shredder and ignores them. His thinking is that unless the summons is sent registered mail no one can prove that you actually received the summons.
True, I suppose, but not my style really.

So why disrupt my place of business, interfere with the income of the practice, put my personal life on hold and volunteer to drive into Kent to spend a minimum of two days, more if I’m seated, in a room with a hundred or so strangers with whom I have nothing in common except that we’re all registered voters?

Well, to be brutally honest, the first reason is angst. At this point I’m so anxious to get away from the office for a while that I’d volunteer to have my fingernails pulled out if it meant that I’d get away from the godforsaken telephone and one particular brainless receptionist for a few days. Ennui is far behind me at this point. I’m not quite up to active loathing of my job, but somewhere kind of in the middle.

Oh don’t get your collective panties in a wad!
I’m not about to bag my avocation and my career to go off and paint houses for a living, tempting though it may be on occasion.
I’ll be fine after I get some time off (six weeks and counting!).

The second reason is curiosity. Bar my mother’s jury experience when I was in junior high or so, I’ve never had any contact with the court system and just being related to a juror doesn’t count. All of my family and connections are just a little too far into the “lawful” classification for any of us to have had to appear. And so I’ve grown into a voting adult in a representative, such as it is, democracy and while I have some vague notion of how the other two branches of government work (or don’t), the judiciary? Not a clue.
Honestly to my recollection the only time I’ve ever entered a courthouse besides this morning was on Friday afternoon when Andrew and I came down here to scope out where I was supposed to be at 0800 today.

And I can drivel on about civic duty and the responsibilities of an individual to be part of the process for the good of society and all sorts of twee crap like that. And despite my overt cynicism I do actually believe all of that twee crap.
I’m somewhere in the middle between a flag waving, tricorn wearing tea party patriot and a fire extinguisher wielding, bandanna masked anarchist in my beliefs regarding the ability of the American judiciary to function in a manner consistent with the idea of how it’s *supposed* to work.
And if I believe it works then I should do my part to keep it working.
And if I believe the American judiciary doesn’t work then it’s my responsibility to know what I can about how it doesn’t work so that I can help engineer change.

But I’m also participating because I’m having fun.
Even just sitting in the jury assembly room sans computer (I could bring my laptop, but I probably won’t because small as it is that sucker’s HEAVY!), sans phone (I do have my mobile, but I can only have it on in the jury assembly room) I get to do…… what?
Read a book? YEP! First time in a long time that I’ve been able to sit for hours at a time and chew through a book without having to stop so I can sleep or getting distracted by someone or something else.
Knit? Well, mebbe. There’s a sign downstairs by the metal detector that says knitting needles aren’t allowed, but I did see someone else in here knitting this morning so I may actually bring my knitting tomorrow and see if they’ll let me get away with it. Whether or not my wrists, which have been acting markedly snitty recently, would let me sit and knit for several hours at a time is unclear, but I may try it anyway.
Write? Sure! Although said snitty wrists, or wrist as the case may be, may stop me doing this pretty soon.

When was the last time when you weren’t sick that you had hours at a time to sit and do, within some reason, what you wanted? I can’t work, I can’t do any house or yard work, I can’t run errands, I don’t have any computer games, I have no phone calls to make, and I have no one that I absolutely have to talk to.

All I can do is sit and think and wait.
And if I get seated I’ll sit and listen and think and decide.

About 10 minutes after I finished writing this on Wednesday afternoon I got put into a jury pool of 40 people. By random chance my assigned juror number put me in the first 14 people — 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
I made it through the jury selection process and was seated and sworn this afternoon. My boss is having an apoplexy because I’m likely going to be away from the office for all of next week and most of the week after, but there’s really nothing either of us can do about it.
Although I do have to say that I rather resent the fact that she urged me to lie during the selection process to avoid getting chosen. And it wasn’t even that she actually urged me to lie, it’s just that she jokingly urged me to lie with the un-stated understanding that she’d be a lot happier if I did get out of being on a jury.
But I didn’t lie and I did get seated and we’ll both just have to live with it. I wish the business didn’t have to suffer for it, but I am happy to live in a democracy.

There are exactly three things that I can say about the rest of the last two days before I have to clam up.
One: I don’t think that all of Subway’s meats are entirely terraformed (carniformed?) turkey. I think if the Subway chain says that you’re eating beef, you’d better be eating beef or there’s someone in a supervisory capacity that is likely to get a bit miffed.
Two: I wonder if the guy who said that he didn’t believe in the jury process as part of his reason to be granted a hardship exclusion (the other part of his reason was that he had a sleep study scheduled on the 27th and would have to meet with his surgeon on the 28th — two weeks after the trial is scheduled to be over with) just said that to get out of serving or if he actually doesn’t believe in the jury process.
Three: What grown adult has to be reminded that you do not wear a baseball cap in court?

One Response to “Later, at the Hall of Justice…..”

  1. Valerie Says:

    I’ve been called for jury duty twice. The first time was for a really big deal trial for a civil commitment of a predatory serial sex offender. The jury pool started at 150, got weeded down to about 100 where I was juror #89. I was two seats away from serving on that jury–at #89! I was ever so happy not to serve on that jury, I did NOT want to hear the evidence, and the guy was…creepy. Normal looking–in fact, he was the spitting image of Alan’s BiL’s father–but creepy in that indefinable way that would have you crossing to the other side of the street, or clutching your cell phone tightly if you saw him coming your way.

    The second time I was called, I actually served on a jury and found the experience enlightening, encouraging, and really interesting. Oh, and we convicted the crack-dealer pimping out underage girls. If the bailiff gives you notebooks to take notes in, take lots and lots of notes on the testimony–it will help you in the deliberations because they don’t bring in the trial transcripts for the jury to review without a really good reason.

    The most surreal moment was when our jury pool was gathering in the elevator lobby at the Superior Court building downtown and the bailiff brought us together to lecture us that being on a jury or in the courtroom was nothing like what we see on TV, so we’d better check our expectations at the door. But the message might have been better if it hadn’t come from someone who looked exactly like Selma, the bailiff from Night Court!

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