Yesterday was my first day of jury duty and I was incredibly nervous. Living where I do I rarely have to go into the city, not that I never have, it’s just not necessary in my every day life. So I was nervous about having to go downtown alone to an unfamiliar place, to do an unfamiliar “job” because I had to. Since my mom can barely manage a moment without knowing exactly where I am we had to do a test run of it on Friday. Of course it had to be at the same time, so she would know what kind of traffic I’d have to face, etc. She decided, because apparently at age 29 I’m still unable to make my own decisions, that I should take the rapid transit into town. Since I’m 29 and I can do what I damn well please, I decided to take the rapid transit….. but not because she told me I should. Shut up.
The first day, all the new jurors filed in (there were about 200 or more of us) and were checked in and given a bright and shiny pin that had “JUROR” in big letters that we were to wear at all times inside. After checking in we filed into the juror “lounge” and I say it in quotes because it was the most drab, uncomfortable room we had to sit in, but at least there were people there to talk to. It was, by no means, loungy. I made my way to the first table I saw that was full all but one seat and started talking with the people at it. Surprisingly, there were no crazy people so I stayed. We were suppose to be shown a horrible “this is your duty” film but the do-hickey was broken and the technical guy couldn’t fix it so we got a little lecture saying “If you need anything, just ask us.” and then she listed the drugs she had available such as Advil, Tylenol, etc. In the lounge you have access to a cafeteria where you can get whatever you want to eat, and also a vending machine room for drinks and snacks and such, and the smoking area which is a balcony outside. All in all, not a great place to be, but if you have to (and you do) it’s not totally horrible and the hours aren’t torturous either. It’s 8/8:15 am – 11:30 am break for lunch then 1:15 to 3:30 pm if you’re not picked to be a juror.
I, of course, was not that lucky. I was chosen in the first jury, second name called. When you’re chosen for the jury there are 2 types of cases and you can tell which one you’ll be on by the number of people chosen. 22 people, it’s a criminal case, and … I believe 16 or 18 people is civil. We had 22 people picked.
I then got to go to the jury room and sit and wait for the judge to call us all in. We got in and went through a period where the judge, defending, and prosecuting lawyers ask you a series of questions called voir dire – which in French means “to speak the truth”. The judge asked me about my job, which was kind of annoying because that’s public record now, and each lawyer asked me a question. The prosecuting attorney asked me what I thought of when he said “war on drugs” and I said “nothing”. I mean, I’m pretty far removed from the war on drugs, not that people where I live aren’t doing them, it’s just not as out there around here (except for “doodie” across the street ’cause I think she’s on speed). Then the defending attorney asked me to give an instance where someone was innocent and said to be guilty, put in jail, and then later they were found to be innocent. I was concentrating on a hang nail when he asked me so my mind went blank and then I thought of Sam Sheppard. Yeah, I’m a dork.
All the people in my row were excused except for me. I was the first juror asked to stay on, and out of the 22 of us there were 13, meaning one juror was an alternate (to be named later). We sat and took notes for about 2-3 hours while a few witnesses were called, went in and out of court while the lawyers argued with one another, and then we were sent home at 5pm. Which was suck.
Tomorrow I’ll write the less technical, funny, and interesting part of jury duty. I got some stories!