Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slave of Duty

I called one last time, hoping against hope that I wouldn't have to go.  I know we all have a responsibility to show up for jury duty when called, but I never take the summons as something I'm eager to do.  I have managed to luck out several times with trials canceled at the last minute.

My instructions were to call the court any time after 5:45 on Friday to find out if I still had to show up at the courthouse in Woodland at 8 a.m. 

Summons.jpg (59899 bytes)

I called, and the trial had not been canceled, but now I didn't have to show up until 11 a.m.  Hoping against hope, I called one last time before I left the house, but I was still requested to attend.

I arrived at the courthouse around 10:15, early because I know parking can be a problem.  And yes, the lot was full, but fortunately I was able to find on-street parking and walked to the courthouse.

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I went upstairs to the 3rd floor and joined the group of people assembled in the hall, waiting to get let into the jury waiting area.  

juryrm.jpg (46089 bytes)We finally were invited into the room, which has been equipped with more comfortable chairs since the last time I was there.  There was a water cooler, coffee pots, and machines with food and drink. 

The room had signs all over the place saying it was a wifi hot spot and my cell phone told me I was connected, but there was no signal, so I was not able to use wifi.

There was a TV screen at the front which looked like it was going to show us a video about the responsibilities of a juror (this was new from last time I was there).  The monitor was on with the menu showing, just waiting for someone to start it.
But I had brought my Kindle, so sat there buried in my book while the room continued to fill up, each new arrival stopping at a table in the back to highlight his or her own room.  This is a small county and I expected to see someone I knew, but no.  Nobody.

Shortly before 11, someone came in and told us to turn off all electronic devices.  Few did.  The woman in front of me didn't even hesitate before continuing what she was doing on her iPad, several others continued to work with their iPhones and another man near me never even glanced up from his Kindle.  I had obediently put my Kindle away, but since we didn't seen to have any other instructions, I snuck it back out of my purse and continued reading.

By 11 a.m., the room was very full and people were standing.  I remembered from before that they took all the prospective jurors into a courtroom to question them. 
A clerk came out to take call the role and make sure that everyone who  had highlighted his or her name was actually there.  Then she disappeared. 

At about 11:15, the door opened again and a guy walked in.  He introduced himself as Judge so-and-so (I didn't catch his name).  He talked about the vagaries of court trials and how sometimes when subpoenas are served, those served don't show up, and how that was bad and warrants would be issued for their arrest.
This was beginning to sound promising.
He also mentioned that some of us might have noticed that he was using the past tense when speaking about this trial, and then he told us that we were all excused because the trial couldn't go forward.  But he then said he wanted to talk to us a bit and proceeded to give us a 5-10 minute civics lecture about the American court system and what a good thing it was and how it differed from most of the world.  Kind of geared for an 8th grade classroom.

But eventually he told us that by showing up this morning we had fulfilled our civic duty for the year and released us.  About this time, a man next to me stood up and raised his hand.  He apologized for not speaking English well (he sounded Russian...there is a big Russian community in this county) and explained that he couldn't understand English very well. He asked if he could be excused because his son, who accompanied him, had a medical appointment to go to (I thought he said dialysis,but that might have been wrong).  The judge repeated that he was free to go--that we were all free to go.

My heart was not broken.  I have the book store job tomorrow and Cousins Day the day after and I was not looking forward to having to cancel because of being in a trial.

It was about lunchtime, so I celebrated my release from my duty by finding the Woodland location of Osaka Sushi and treating myself to their fabulous spicy tuna roll.

Not sure why the countdown has been showing 5 days until my Journalversary....today Funny the World is TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!


Kwizgiver said...

Happy Blogoversary! :-)

And the only time I've ever been called for Jury Duty I was living in Ireland for a semester abroad, so I was excused!

The yummy food makes it look like it was all worthwhile.

Harriet said...

I always wanted to serve on a jury, but there have always been reasons why I was excused (most recently because my cataracts prevented me from driving).

Now my excuse is that I'm over 70, which is automatic. I think that's strange, because retirees should make good jurors.

Lise said...

Happy journalversary! I had to look back through the archives to figure out that I've been reading for ten years now.