I got tagged to go downtown for jury duty today. The following is an account of my day from my totally worn out oddball brain.
5:53 AM People who get up at this hour and are happy about it are cursed. (Proverbs 27:14)
6:20 AM Eat Hot Pocket and brew coffee. It’s good to have breakfast when you have to think early.
7:40 AM I made it! I found the juror parking lot! Apparently breakfast and coffee didn’t help the thinking process. I have already forgotten which level I parked on.
7:51 AM About 200 people in here so far. Some people are in suits or dress clothes, but I am not the only one in jeans. Jeans say, “I care enough to wear clean clothes, but perhaps I am not sophisticated enough for your jury.”
7:52 AM (random people watching and tired brain notes)
Dude. At least take a shower next time. Bed Head.
Going hunting after jury duty?
Sir, could you please put a hat on? You’re sitting right under the light and the glare…
Nice cowboy hat.
I’m pretty sure sleeping isn’t sending a “I’m a good juror candidate,” message.
Wishing I knew how to play games on my phone. I’m coveting the lady’s solitaire game.
Hmm… this must be a rule… at least one seat must be left open between potential jurors, apparently 2-5 if you are sitting next to Bed Head or the guy with the weird twitch.
No talking… I know, it’s too early for me, too.
If you rustle your newspaper in my ear one more time, there will be consequences… and the sleeping guy next to you may be on my jury… so I’ll let it slide… this time.
7:57 AM Did I not get the memo? Most of the white people are sitting in the middle section. What am I doing over here?
7:59 AM (random people watching and tired brain notes)
Tempted to read over lady’s shoulder… and it’s in Spanish. Perhaps not… wait… I think I remember what that word means…why are you reading that in here?
Black Designer Suit Guy, you look miserable and are wearing all black. Either you’re a designer Goth or you’re going to a funeral after jury duty… I’m pretty sure that’s a get out of jury duty free card, so I doubt it. Perk up! It’s not so bad! Next time try a tie with a little color, though.
8:01 AM Girl in pink shirt behind counter tells us she wants our summons…ses…es. Hey, I wanted it for my scrapbook, but you can have it.
8:01:20 AM Dude. Turn OFF your ringer. Blood is running out of my ear! Between your newspaper and your phone, you are really pushing it.
8:02 AM If you’re late, just slide in the back while no one’s looking. Asking what to do if you’re late apparently gets you put in time out. I never did see that guy again.
8:04 AM Exemption video…you’d think if people were exempt they wouldn’t have made the trip.
8:05 AM So you have a tardiness issue. That’s okay. I could so live with that… SIT. BY. ME. PLEASE.
8:06 AM When attending jury duty with your mom, wear matching outfits.
8:07 AM Bed Head, I will buy you some hair gel. That’s all it would have taken to make you look somewhat sane. You look like you just got out of bed.
Girl… white pants? It’s after Labor Day and, they’re way too small.
8:12 AM Another bald guy… and he looks like he shines his head. Mr. Shiny.
8:13 AM You don’t want your name called by girl in the pink shirt behind counter.
8:15 AM Sweetie, 1982 called. They want their hairstyle back.
8:21 AM Very sweet lady recommends John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza. Apparently it’s about this American football player who goes to Italy and plays for… (wait for it…) pizza.
8:22 AM Bed Head is back. GEL!
8:23 AM Really want to ask the girl in the pink shirt behind the counter (who keeps disappearing and reappearing) why I had to be here at 8:00 if we weren’t going to do anything until 8:30.
8:24 AM (more random people watching and tired brain notes)
Woman in front of me has bed head as well.
Guy behind me so needs to blow his nose. Seriously, Mr. Snotty!
Some people should never, under any circumstances, be allowed to perm. I can say that because I used to be one of those people.
8:25 AM Rethink white people in the middle section memo. Perhaps it was, “all white MORNING people please sit in the middle section.” Maybe that’s why I wasn’t invited.
8:26 AM Someone please give Mr. Snotty a tissue! Would it be rude of me to offer him one? Do I want to hear him blow his nose?
“Mommy, how did you meet Daddy?”
“Well, honey, he was full of snot and I just couldn’t stand it anymore, so I offered him a tissue.”
“I know, baby, but let Mommy teach you a new word. It’s called hindsight.”
No, I’ll let Mr. Snotty sniff on.
8:28 AM Interesting ‘do rag, but you wear it well.
Mr. Shiny has changed locales and is now sitting behind me. He’s built like Mr. Clean. I think he scared Mr. Snotty, because he hasn’t sniffed in a few minutes.
8:29 AM Am convinced getting up an extra hour early has not helped me be more alert now, nor does it help me complete simple, every day tasks (like opening a powdered green tea packet) any easier.
8:30 AM OH. MY. WORD. Save me, Mr. Shiny, from Mr. Snotty!
8:32 AM They’re locking us in. Suddenly, I want out.
8:33 AM If I were Jene’ I would have run into at least one person I knew by now. In a group this large, possibly three.
1982 Hair, 1982 wants the clothes back, too. Use your jury money and go shopping.
8:34 AM Room is fairly full, but still there’s at least one seat between each prospective juror (except for the daughter/mother matching outfit combo).
The jury instruction video plays again for the late people. There should be a penalty for being subjected to it again because someone else is late.
8:36 AM I need new glasses. It may be the light in here. Weird. I could read the closed-captioning a few minutes ago.
8:38 AM Son, I know that hair color doesn’t occur in nature… and I think that color doesn’t occur in nature. And it shouldn’t.
8:39 AM Pulling on locked doors will not make them open. You’re late.
8:40 AM Language problems will get me out? Ich spreche nicht English. Mental condition? I have one! My life is NUTS right now! No? I can’t concentrate in the morning. Really. It’s got to count for something.
CELL PHONES OFF, PLEASE! Maybe mine shouldn’t be on vibrate. I might jump or scream. I think that might be inappropriate.
8:45 AM Video says I will take an oath. I get to swear! This is so exciting!
Mr. Shiny has scared the snot out of Mr. Snotty. This is good news. I don’t think I want to marry him. “You had me at Kleenix.”
8:47 AM Is a small bladder a medical exemption?
8:48 AM I just got to swear! I mean, I was just sworn in.
8:49 AM Man, those white people in the middle section are LOUD.
Daughter/Mom matching outfit combo are making small talk with Mr. Shiny. He has a nice voice. Maybe I’ll offer him a tissue.
8:50 AM No more videos. Entertain me! Can we watch Regis & Kelly in 10 minutes? Where does the girl in the pink shirt behind the counter keep going? Don’t want to put headphones on, I might miss something important… like Spanish instructions or Mr. Shiny talking.
8:52 AM Need to talk to girl in pink shirt behind the counter about the screen saver. The Windows logo, though it does jump around the screen, is boring.
Mr. Shiny agrees with me. He wants to watch something. Turn on the TV!
8:53 AM Mr. Snotty is at it again. If I offer him a Sudafed instead of a tissue, would I still have to marry him? Then again, passing around meds in the jury room is probably against the rules.
Lady, keep Mr. Shiny talking. Please. My future happiness may depend on it. If we’re in the same jury panel this could be love. Forget Mr. Tardy… although he just walked by again…
Dude. Are you really wearing a Michael Jordan workout suit to Jury Duty? Really? If you are wearing Hanes, I don’t want to know.
Lady, you would look 20 years younger if you cut off about 20-24 inches of your hair. Really. Talk to me later. I know people.
8:59 AM Allowing Sassy to get bored is very, very dangerous!
Uh, sir, Paul Bunyan called. He wants his shirt back.
9:00 AM Hey, loud white people in the middle section! My mind can’t wander with all this noise. SHH!
9:01 AM Jazz music might be helpful… or Regis & Kelly…wait… there’s action up front.
Oooh! Jury panels have corresponding primary colors! Can I be blue?
No! No! Goodbye, Mr. Shiny. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Mr. Tardy and Mr. Snotty are still here. They’re all lined up against the wall… looks like a lively jury panel. Bed Head, Paul Bunyan and 1982 Hair are still here, too.
9:03 AM Resist urge to wave goodbye to Mr. Shiny…wait… wait… they called my number! I’m in the red group! Well, okay. I guess red is fine.
9:05 AM The Bailiff takes us downstairs and does a really mean thing all of us so early in the morning. He changes our numbers! I am now referred to as Juror #52.
65 of us are on a panel, which includes Paul Bunyan, Bed Head, The Hunter guy and… Jeff Goldblum.
9:20 AM Am herded through courthouse security, which is as extensive as going to the airport. Tip: wear shoes that are easy to take off and on.
Every time I talk to Clean Cut Dad he tells me not to worry. It’s all looking good. The statistical odds are in our favor.
9:34 AM Am informed, on the 18th floor of the courthouse that The Bailiff just led us to blocks away, that we now have a two hour break. UGH!! This is cruel and unusual punishment in the morning!
9:42 AM I am bored. Should I go to the cafeteria?
9:55 AM Sitting in cafeteria. Good idea. Eat sandwich and watch a man who could be Jason Momoa’s little brother (seated at the next table) eat the cold pasta he brought to eat at jury duty.
Mr. Shiny is here! Apparently his jury panel is on a break, too. He seems friendly and outgoing.
Don’t see anyone from my jury. Perhaps they’re fighting over the 12 chairs available on the 18th floor. Wait, there’s Jeff Goldblum.
10:02 AM Beyond bored. Jury duty has been even more boring than the last time when I never left the gathering room all afternoon.
11:03 AM Just spent an hour talking with another juror. She’s an author and aspiring publisher. Tell me God’s not into the details. She was really easy to talk to.
11:58 AM Standing with a different group from my juror panel. We’ve been standing since 11:30 when it was demanded that we return. Nobody’s come out to tell us anything. Oh Mr. Bailiff?
12:12 PM Finally inside criminal court. Sit down in the back row. My legs are not happy right now.
Judge thanks us for waiting so long. We all know at this point that if we are picked for a jury we will be making the return trip Friday morning. When he says he’s going to do his spiel and then we’ll take another break, for a moment I thought there was going to be a riot.
1:19 PM Judge finishes juror education. He’s very thorough and I understand what it means to be a juror now. Clean Cut Dad reasserts that since we are #’s 52 and 53 that statistically we stand a good chance of not getting picked, which is great because the Judge predicts that this case won‘t be over until Monday at the earliest. Judge did say that the back row usually doesn’t get picked, but it’s not unheard of. In that case, can I go now?
1:38 PM Called Dana and told her to pray I don’t get picked, because that gives me only 2 days to finish a lot of work and I don’t need the stress. I’d love to serve on a jury, however, just not this week. Maybe some other time (but a long time).
1:57 PM Back in courtroom… Judge is nowhere to be found. Find out that another juror close by is a salesman for Hershey’s. I can tell he loves his job.
2:17 PM Still waiting, but at least all jurors are accounted for. Several have already been dismissed for various reasons (illness, people who have decided they can’t judge, etc).
2:22 PM Judge is back! We’re in business.
The prosecuting district attorney begins Voir Dire.
She starts asking all sorts of abstract questions like, “if convicted, could you give the defendant the full range of the sentence?” She wants to know if we would do this in general, not necessarily specific to this case. I am not good at those abstract things… especially when I really want to know all the facts first, but I get it.
I like her though. She handles all of the off the wall questions well and explains everything. I don’t object to anything so far. She’s actually holding my attention and five minutes ago I wanted to curl up and go to sleep. She reminds me of a svelte Camryn Manheim. It would be worth it to be a juror to see this woman in action.
2:52PM Defense attorney takes over. He’s old enough to be my dad. He says a lot of words, but the distance between two points is a long, winding, and frustrating road. Much of it has nothing to do with his case. My attention is wavering, and though I’m fighting hard to keep it, it’s all I can do not to get up and do some yoga stretches. Those benches are like the old church pews. No padding whatsoever.
After all his words, he wants simple, direct yes or no answers. One juror kept saying “probably,” so he said, “if I sent you a wedding invitation, would you check yes or no?” She said, rather shortly, “Well, you’re lost on that one, I don’t believe in marriage.” The judge, who had been doing paperwork while he was listening from his bench, looked up and was trying not to laugh. It was getting pretty hostile. One guy on the back row said, just above a whisper, “is there a question in all those words?”
He takes up his full thirty minutes. I’m doing yoga stretches in my mind.
3:35 PM Judge starts calling out juror numbers who are immediately dismissed. I am not one of them. Clean Cut Dad starts worrying that his statistical favor may have left the room with the lady who didn’t believe in marriage.
3:44 PM Judge begins to call the numbers for the actual jury. He gets to my row and he takes a few, but Clean Cut Dad and I are FREE! The thirteenth juror called is very confused. She keeps saying, “but there are already twelve.” The Bailiff explains to her what an alternate is and gently leads her to the jury chairs, which are padded and look incredibly comfortable.
3:50 PM FREEDOM! We pack the express elevator and get out of the building much faster than we came in. I follow Clean Cut Dad and a couple of other ladies back to the juror parking garage (because I was talking to Clean Cut Dad and the man dressed to go hunting after jury duty and wasn‘t paying attention to where I was going just after 9 AM. Imagine that.
3:54 PM I pay for my parking and I’m ready to go!
3:56 PM Apparently I did not, as previously thought, park on levels 8 or 9. I saw the lady I got on the elevator with this morning (who also couldn‘t remember which level she parked on), and we decided to go to level 10 together. Relief! Car is on level 10. I can’t wait to get inside it.
4:20 PM Going home I-10 was a great idea until…I hit 610. The last four miles take 15 minutes.
4:50 PM Walk into my house and am ready to collapse! Jury duty has made me very tired!
This is the first time I’ve been selected for a jury panel, so today was very educational. Above all, this has given me dialogue and writing material to last… at least until the next time my number is drawn for jury duty.