True stories with a twist!

JURY DUTY

It’s a privilege not many countries offer their citizens. Ours does.

So why, when someone gets notice of jury duty the first thing they want to do is “get out of it?”

“Too busy.” “Conflict.” “ Not now; I have a headache,” oops, that last one is for getting out of something else.     

I was called for Jury Duty and, having never had the experience before, went to serve on my assigned day and time.

All the prospective jurors were seated in black metal folding chairs in a large auditorium, waiting to be told what to do and where to go. In front of the room were three fully armed police officers, pacing up and down the aisles. That gave a rather less than welcoming atmosphere to a room of well-intentioned citizens there to do their duty to our free society. At 9 o’clock A.M. a spokesperson addressed us.

‘You are required to stay seated until you’re called. If your name is called please rise and follow me. Otherwise, stay seated where you are now. There will be an hour break for lunch at noon, and you will return here until dismissal time, 4 o’clock.’ This message was delivered in blunt and unnecessarily cold tones. I felt more like a prisoner of the state than a law abiding citizen doing my civic duty.

My name had not been called yet, so I settled back and looked around to discover that I was in interesting company. The man to my right kept gnawing at his left index finger. I wished I had a cuticle clipper and an emory board to offer him so he would stop that annoying crime against his defenseless cuticle. I shifted my gaze to the woman on my left. she had a motion thing going on with her leg. She sat with the right leg crossed over the left and relentlessly elevated that right leg up and then dropped it down;  down; up and down and up. A choreographic symphony was going on in my very row. And it was making me dizzy. No matter how hard I tried I could not make the swinging leg stay still. And I couldn’t ignore it; I tried to avert my eyes, but it swung endlessly. The person in front of me was busy texting. She must have had a clever co-texter, because she kept bursting out in a high pitched cackle indicating her amusement with her electronic pen-pal. Someone behind me was chewing gum and snapping it in my ear. After a while I was dizzy from the swinging leg, deaf from the snapping gum and repulsed by the finger-molester. The presiding officers were intimidating and nightmarish.

My name was never called, so I was forced to sit in that one place all day. When it was dismissal time, I left gratefully, hoping that I would never again be called to serve on jury duty.

Comments on: "JURY DUTY" (37)

  1. You have an observant eye. silly, intriguing but interesting moments and people in a day to day American life which makes it a fascinating read, an amusing insight.

  2. I have this reoccuring nightmare that I’ll be on trial trying to defend my life (scene ala “Rebecca”) and I’ll get a jury not of my peers but of people who just couldn’t fanagle (sp) their way out of the responsibility. It freaks me out. I think we should go to an all judge system. This jury of your peers worked when we lived in small villages but now that we live in such a massive country, I think that it is a crap shoot as to who will be your jury. I mean look at O.J. Simpson for God’s sake. The dude got off. How was that even possible?

  3. You are such a great storyteller Ronnie. I’m at the public library now with half my town competing for an outlet. People sneezing. Coughing. Gnawing. I may as well be serving jury duty.

    • Sympathies! I had a computer appointment at the Apple Store this morning and didn’t realize that today is the first time since the storm hit that the mall was open. Bloomingdales and Saks are still closed.

      People were sitting in the lobby charging their devices. Several exits are closed.

      Maybe jury duty wasn’t so bad after all.

  4. Thankfully we live too far away from the county seat here, so we’ve never had to answer the call. But it doesn’t stop them from sending us notices every year …

  5. I was called for jury duty while on maternity leave so I deferred it. When the deferral ended, I was on a big work project so deferred again. The clerk I talked to gave me an exasperated “When DO you want to serve, ” so I figured I’d better pick a date and go with it. Fortunately my experience was better (got on an interesting & short trial, with a good jury that made the right call), but I’ve heard plenty of stories!

  6. That day goes in this category: “Time I Wish I Could Get Back.” Somehow, I’ve managed to get out of jury duty twice … and, no, I’m not a criminal. Not with a name like Amiable Amiable.

  7. Snoring Dog Studio said:

    Honestly, jury duty isn’t that bad if you actually get on a case, but being among the humanity in the waiting room can be painful, as you described. I was a grand jury member for 6 months. 6 months of my life. But it felt like a job well done.

  8. Oh this made me laugh! Thanks for that! X

  9. Get a criminal record – that’ll keep you out of the waiting room:)

  10. Oh how I thank my lucky stars we don’t have this in our country… firstly to sit in a room with armed police patrolling up and down (are you the criminals??) would not have been good for my sense of humour… one chewing on his hand would have been told not to.. a lady shaking her leg would have been told to sit still… a gum eater, probably the last straw… and bing bang boom .. not being able to move about or have a smoke… would have had me in the defendants chair within the first hour… thank you America, please keep that to yourselves…

  11. I was called for jury duty in June, but I already had non-refundable airline tickets to see my brother. Postponed to July. Then I had lazer eye surgery for glaucoma. Now I can look forward to jury duty around Christmas.
    Your post reminds me that I should bring a good book to read. “Serial killers do Manhattan” might not be a great choice. 🙂

  12. Sounds worse than a day at the DMV. Sadly, I would have been that woman constantly moving her legs. I’m a fidgeter. But at least I don’t gnaw my cuticles.

  13. Unfortunately we don’t have such in my country. But then, I enjoyed reading your post and what it had to offer. Your descriptions are top notch, BTW.

  14. You are so right… AND when I went to serve on jury duty in NJ, I was paid $5 a day. At the time I had a monthly newspaper and was on deadline. Since I was the editor, newspaper layout person, delivery boy, bill collector, and ad designer, they said they could only keep me for two days.

    • I am impressed that you were able to get an assurance of a two day minimum. I’ve heard stories of people serving and winding up being involved in a murder trial. That could take weeks of deliberations, testimonies, and court recesses.

  15. Great post.. I agree– it’s a fascinating learning experience that everyone should do once, but what a pain in the neck. Not sure there’s a better way.

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