Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ah, Jury Duty

Notes from the Jury Assembly Room
Stuck in a room with a large number of people you don't know enduring a task that is both mind-numbing and publicly important. No, I'm not talking about going to a sporting event for losing team, which I did once...or twice...several times actually, for several hours (because the tickets were free). That and waiting patiently for my BBQ ribs. Both are public and civic duties. 'Murica! No, I'm talking about a real duty of the public, ala Jury Duty, where it turns out we actually are the peers who are going to get to judge somebody. It is so not the drama. 

Monday was Jury Duty, that vast public service that holds us all in the grip of fear. A missed day of work. A day sitting in a room waiting to be called for...something. I had hoped that next to my name would pop up a little symbol that said "Not him, anyone but him" in the county computer. Actually, I should have been happy to serve, as I'd deferred my previous Jury Appointment which had luckily been penciled in as the day prior to the summer bar exam. The people from Juror Services had understood for some reason. Go figure.

I've actually only gone down for Jury Duty once before, as opposed to ringing up the juror contact phone line to check my standby status and being thanked for my willingness to serve. I've done some work at the courthouse, so I knew it's the same room from all those years ago. And last time I was in that room, there were little tables along one wall for laptop users. Think about, it's Jury Assembly, not the jury room! They know you're going to waiting, so they try to make it nice. Nice-ish. All those years ago I had been upset because I didn't have my laptop, so this time expecting to get a little work done I took it. AND damned if the little tables are gone, and not even some chairs.  Oh, the outlets are still there, but the tables are vamoose! Genius! But, they've got what looks like some old library tables on the other side - you know, the old long wooden ones that look like unimaginative dinner tables - and some cheap four seat cafe tables. And one outlet. No, I lie, if you look over by the kitchenette, there are two more behind the stacked stuff. And the room seems smaller too.  I realize things are tough...but oh my.

For that transgression, I had hoped that if they had called me I would have walked into the courtroom and recognized one of the attorneys. Or the judge. Or the person on trial. And there would have been a momentary situation where we just look at each other like in the movies,  I kinda half smile and give them the thumbs up on the low, which in turn would lead to some hilarious TV hijinks that require an ancient laugh track and where in the end we strike a blow for justice that somehow involves banana creme pies in evidence. In reality, any of those situations would immediately get me struck from the pool. But ah, a man can dream. Okay, what I actually hoped was that my house didn't get broken into (the first time I'm out of it for more than a few hours in a while), and that I would get to spend an uneventful day of not getting picked and playing the occasional video game. Okay, the recognize the lawyer thing and getting removed might have been a gas too. Either or.

We got the floor show, as a judge came out and answered all our questions for like a solid hour. Then they started the calls, which got to be annoying as each time they started you would begin to pack up...and then she'd finish at which point you'd have to unpack again. Just so you know, in Atlanta proper, if you're called to Jury Duty you're name is already been picked to be on a jury. We had five or six trials that day, and they called enough for folks for five or six trials. They may randomize once you check in, but you start the day pretty much on a jury. Where the drop offs come is when the cases settle on the eve of trial, one way or another. After they'd called three groups (roughly 145 people) they called a list of names and told those people to be back after lunch. The remainder, of which I was a part, was thanked for their service.

So I went and got me a nice salad. Went home and put in some online applications. Stared at the walls for while. Thought about stuff. And things. Not a bad day. 

I have done my part. I have served. AND I got my voter registration card the same day!

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