Monday, March 30, 2009

it's my civic duty / to serve on a jury

roughly fourteen years elapsed between the day i first became eligible for jury duty and the day of my first jury summons notice, which showed up in our mailbox a few weeks back.

went through the process today - i was not, as some were, immediately dismissed but instead chosen to sit in on a panel for an upcoming family law custody case. as the cold hand of roll call dictated i was potential juror #40 out of 48 so when the final picks came in (so i have been told, they always start out picking the final juror set starting at #1 and skipping over the invalidated ones until they get their Twelve Angry Men/Women) i was ultimately not selected and released of my duty to county and country this time.

i totally support the idea of jury duty and feel it's an important and valuable service that people undergo for the benefit of their community at large - still, i found myself daydreaming about what exactly i'd do if they picked me to sit on the jury and the trial ended up lasting for weeks. seeing as my lovely wife is entering her 35th week of pregnancy i was not particularly cool with the concept of being held captive to duty 8 am to 5 pm every weekday where i could not be immediately contacted or free to leave to assist my wife with a drive to the hosptial or, heaven forfend, the specter of not being given a pass while my son was actually born into the world.

the courthouse staff did a great job of conveying the importance of the process and thanking us for our attendance in service; the courtroom itself was stately and dignified and everyone seemed enthusiastic about the civic task at hand. the whole experience was fairly uplifting from a community sense, marred only slightly by the handwritten carving of "F_CK YOU HOES" etched into the wooden seatback in front of where i was assigned to sit. a good reminder, i suppose, of the general slice of humanity that makes the existence of courthouses necessary.

tip for the day: if the name on your driver's license (Joe Schmo) and name on your voter registration card (J. Ruttiger Schmo) are not spelled exactly the same, your name will be listed twice in the state's juror roll and you have doubled your chances of being selected.