Jury Duty

gavel.jpgWell, it finally happened. Following a year of getting called in to perform my civic duty and dodging it a few times, I was finally out of excuses… Last week, I had Jury Duty. Let me tell you, I had expectations. I have watched all three Law & Orders regularly for the last 10 years, so I must say that scenes from the shows peppered my idea of what the experience would look like. Plus, after hearing horror stories and tales of bureaucratic civil servants, I was truly dreading the whole experience. But, as with most things in life, I quickly realized that it was nothing like I expected, and NOTHING like Law & Order.

I got there on Monday morning at 8:45, and after a short line at the metal detector, I was in. I was directed to the correct floor, and as I exited the elevator, it was clear that I needed to go into the big jury waiting room. I sat down, and soon enough, there was a video on. This was truly one of those cheesy specialized videos where you might expect to hear the phrase “Hi, I’m Troy McClure!” It had the cast of 60 minutes explaining how I was a valuable cog in the wheel of democracy. I actually laughed out loud for much of this cheese-fest.

After this video, a woman came up to the desk at front and explained the process, and how everything would work. By 9:30, the first case was called and they needed jurors. So, the whole room (I estimate about 400 people strong) eagerly awaited to hear their name called. Mine was not called on the first go-around, but within another 30 minutes or so, I was called. I went into this big courtroom where three young guys were accused of possession of both drugs and firearms. They proceeded to ask each of the first 40 (of 90 total) potential jurors about their background, and if they would be able to be impartial… I couldn’t help but picture the scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry was asked if he was ever a victim of a major crime, and he responded:

“My cousin once stole an Almond Joy from me… I don’t know if it constitutes a major crime, but it was quite upsetting at the time.”

Anyway, I was eventually dismissed from this case before they even questioned me, and thrown back into the general pool. I was told to go home at around 3:00, and since it was still so early, I took a nice leisurely stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.

For Day 2, I brought my laptop with me, because the building is equipped with full and free Wi-Fi access. This made the time go much faster. After waiting around for most of the morning, I was told that I had a 3 hr break, and I should be back at 2:15. I was a bit under the weather, so I went home and slept. When I returned, I was told that I was no longer needed, and sent home.

So, I missed two days of work, which of course was a bit frustrating, but all in all, the experience was not all that bad! The people were very nice, and the building was made to be as comfortable as possible, with WiFi and semi-comfortable seating. Plus, they truly did give us extensive break time, and let us go when we were not needed, so I did not feel like a prisoner. In fact, a part of me really wishes I had been called to be a juror and participate in the process… Maybe next time.

Have you been on jury duty? What was the experience like?

2 Comments so far

  1. KipEsquire (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

    Called several times, never empaneled.

  2. Neil (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

    Do they compensate you? free lunch etc?

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