Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adventures in Jury Duty

Last December I got selected for jury duty. It was actually fun.

Week One
I'm number 808. The first week I call in and they only need numbers 1 through 695. Now I'm in a smallish town and I have no idea where 695 people are going to park to report, so I'm very very happy that I'm number 808.

Week two
Monday through Wednesday they need numbers 695 through 750, number 808 must call in on Wednesday night. So I call in and sure enough they need ME.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning midnight
Must go to bed, must go to sleep, must get up early. Helllllloooooo, I'm retired and I don't get up until 8:30 a.m., you want me at the Public Safety Building at 8:30 a.m., dressed? make up? hair curled? OMG, what are you people smoking? Plus it's very very windy and I'm sure the power will go out and I'll miss the two alarms I have set.

The morning of
Alarms go off and I hear them. Not only that, but I get up and stumble to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Get in shower, tell myself only 10 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, get out of shower, stumble back to the kitchen for my coffee. Get dressed, curl hair, make-up on, well this is as good as it gets for me.Time to go, but first I have to take the garbage to the street, because last night it was too windy. Also, must remove two eight foot branches, that blew off the fir tree last night, from the driveway.

At the Public Safety Building (jail) 8:15 a.m.
Get wanded, get x-rayed. What's that in your purse? I don't know, let's empty it out here in front of all the convicts. Check in, take a (hidden) number. I am no longer number 808, now I am number 5. I ask if I can be number 7, but no, I must keep the first number I drew.

Go in sit down, visit with other numbers.

Judge comes in at 8:35 a.m., very funny judge; however, he is the only one who gets coffee.

8:40 a.m.
Lawyers and defendant (in street clothes) come in, judge arranges us by number. Number 5 at end of row one. They tell us all about jury duty, then they start the voir dire, which means "to speak the truth". Tell us about the witnesses, does anyone recognize the names. Several hands go up, mine included. So "number 5 who do you know". Well my best friend's husband is a cop and when they got married I stood up with the deputy (or at least one with the same name). Judge says "yes, it's him".

More questions, number 8 is nutz. Talking about philosophy and blah blah blah until the judge says okay, we know you know, but lets let someone else answer. Anyone been arrested? Convicted? Family members arrested? Convicted? Let me state here and now that there are a large bunch of criminals called for jury duty.

9:30 a.m.
Still asking questions, and I notice that number 5 is getting more than her share of questions to answer. I'm thinking that I must be looking pretty good sitting there with all the criminals. Questioning over and the two lawyers (both very young) go up to the judge and they "pick" the jury. Numbers 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10. Everyone else is dismissed and we, the jury, are taken by Tracy to jury room number 2 where there is coffee and cookies. Also, where I find out that number 10 is the much older brother of one of my friends since high school.

10:15 a.m.
Trial starts, opening statements, object, sustained, object, sustained, object blah blah blah. Jury leave, jury back, object, overruled, okay jury leave, jury back, break, 5 more minutes of trial, lunch for one and a half hours.

1:15 p.m.
More testimony, more breaks, more objections, and now it's our turn.

4:00 p.m.
Guilty; not guilty; no evidence, poorly presented on both sides. It's a phone harassment charge and it literally comes down to a text message.

5:15 p.m.
Call the judge, verdict, Tracy comes and gets us, takes us back to the courtroom, and here is the defendant sitting in his red jumpsuit with a deputy standing behind him. Hmmm What is your verdict. Guilty, poll the jury. Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty

5:30 p.m.
Jury is dismissed but must go back to room 2 with Tracy and wait for judge. Judge comes back and lets us ask any questions we want. Why is he in jail? Because he was just sentenced for arson against his present ex-girlfriend. A different ex-girlfriend than the one we just convicted him of harassing.

I asked the judge why the jury members were selected from the small numbers, and he told me it was because it saves time to "eliminate" jurors, rather than learn enough about a room full of people to seat a jury. In other words, if you have a small number unless you are a criminal or a crazy, welcome to the jury.

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