On Tuesday I was summoned to participate in our nation’s civil required liberty for people who haven’t been convicted of a felony called jury duty.
When these notices arrive in the mail I think we can all agree it’s usually followed with a sigh and a “How can I get out of this” so-called honor?
The day prior, I researched on-line: what to wear to jury duty. The answer was largely: business casual. But what is business casual exactly? To me it means, somewhat professional, but in a relaxed way. I selected black slacks, a short-sleeved top (articles mentioned court rooms were kept at 72 degrees so they didn’t recommend sleeveless) and black wedged shoes. Professional yet relaxed, but nice.
So when I arrived, on time, apparently no one else was concerned about attire and subscribed to the fashion principle of: anything goes. Especially jeans and sleeveless tops. But it was cold in the courtroom, so ha-ha on them. To put the dress attire into perspective, I was more professionally dressed than the clerk. And who knows what the judge was wearing under that black robe of his.
Moving on, we watched a video explaining the process and how lucky we were to be chosen to participate in judging people. Yay! I didn’t exactly feel lucky, but I kind of liked the idea of judging others and feeling good about it. The clerk then explained the process of donating our $6.00 back to one of three charity groups, which I did. You’re welcome Children’s Protective Services, don’t spend it all in one place. Next was filling out excuse forms from jury duty for the people are so important they can’t participate.
Here comes da judge. He explained the rules to us again adding that although three courts needed 30 to 35 rural jurors, one had settled, and now only two courts need these amounts. Our odds of getting picked for the first round of voir dire were roughly 50%. What is voir dire? I can tell you this because it was explained again and again. It’s the preliminary examination of a juror by the attorneys to determine if you will be ruled in or ruled out.
Next, the judge asked for the people who filled out the I’m-too-important-to-do-jury duty form, to form a line in front of his massive desk. Only three people out of the 160 of us potential rural jurors stood, although, roughly a dozen asked the bailiff for the forms. The judged denied all but one. Then the judge said there was some good new, he “Just saved a bunch of money on his car insurance.” Not kidding, he really did. I didn’t realize I was in comedy court.
We were given a 15 minute break and told to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. I had a book. I played solitaire and crossword on my smart phone. Then we were told another court has settled. We were down to only 35 getting picked for the last trial. I’m all for doing my civic duty, but could the wheels of justice get a little WD-40? So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then the clerk finally returned and announced the last court was ready, but needed 75 people due to the complexity of the case. And then she announced she was kidding. Ha-ha. No one was laughing.
The good news is I am now free for the next three years. Or am I? Turns out the joke’s on me. Due to a new selection process starting at the end of 2017, we could be summoned again in a year-and-a-half.
Comedy court had become kangaroo court.