Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jury Duty -- Hang Me Now

This is my first time summoned to jury duty. I have to admit, I was half excited and half put out. In Champaign County they send you a survey that asks you what month you'd like to serve. I chose December. They sent me a summons for the fourth week in March. I called to tell them that wouldn't due because I was going in for eye surgery on March 24th. So they sent me another summons for this week.

You'll notice neither of them was in December.


Anyway, as a former journalism professor and reporter, I was kind of excited about the idea of serving... until I found out my husband was going to be gone for work two weeks in a row. And that meant I was going to have to recruit Quigs to be my emergency pick up person for X-man if I got put on a trial that runs late. No worries, you just run out in the hall or give your phone to the court authority to call or text her. Except phones aren't allowed in the courthouse at all. Sooo, I had to write down all the phone numbers I might need if I got put on a case that went past 5 p.m. (not that anyone wants to work that late at the courthouse).

It also meant that X-man was going to get up early, and he, like his father, does not like to be woken up. He likes to wake up on his own around 7:30. But that really wasn't going to work on Tuesday when I needed to get him up, get him dressed, take him to vote with me (I won a seat on the library board by the way--go uncontested election!) and then drop him at school before I went to court. I had to be there by 8:15 to ensure that I could get into the jury room by 8:30. So I got up at 5:45 a.m. to shower. X-man got up at 6:30 a.m. He's been a grump all week.

The first day we watched a video and sat around for 90 minutes. I read my book. We all got called back for the afternoon session at 12:30. Then we got divided into two groups and the extras got let go. Then I sat around until the officer came to take us to a court room. Jury room seats are very uncomfortable for hours at a time. But it's not nearly as uncomfortable as the wooden benches in the courtroom. My piriformis was very, very unhappy. I sat on a wooden bench for several hours watching random jurors get called up for a jury. They never called my number, so I got dismissed after they swore everyone in around 4 p.m. But I couldn't read when I was in there...

On Tuesday, I got called back again with half of the jury pool. This time I sat in the jury room from 8:30 until just about 11 a.m. I noticed the three people who I knew the day before weren't there. So I guessed they must have gotten put on a jury for that morning. I finished book 1. Then she came down and said we were dismissed, so I'm guessing the case got settled or dismissed. This morning it was exactly the same thing, but they had summoned all of us in and we sat around for two hours until they excused about 2/3 of us.

There is totally nothing sexy about this process. I wasn't expecting Ally McBeal or Boston Legal or anything. But seriously, this is insane. They built this new courthouse expansion a few years ago, they couldn't have put in a few comfy chairs for jurors to sit in to avoid sciatica outbreaks and drink coffee to stay awake while they waited for hours? Maybe offer up some power outlets and wifi for our laptops (which are allowed even though phones aren't). You could tell today that people were getting tired because they actually started talking. Well, correction, one juror started talking and then he traveled around the room getting to know everyone else. Extroverted individual clearly going through withdrawal. Me, I started reading book 2.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to have my doctor's appointment for my IUD. I know because I have crap luck that I'm going to end up calling Planned Parenthood during the lunch break to reschedule the appointment. But since we've been released 2/3 days and had the afternoon free, I'm going to wait it out and see how it goes.

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to feel more "Power to the People" on Thursday or Friday. Because the participating electorate on Tuesday was depressing. People clearly can't be bothered any more. They think they have more important things to do, and maybe they do if they're rescuing people from fire or saving babies. But I'm feeling pretty Joe Schmo hanging in the jury box, and although it's uncomfortable, it's okay by me.


Charles said...

Just curious, is it illegal to, say, you really like to put everyone in jail no matter what they did? Or what if you believe the law has no authority whatsoever? Just trying to get some advice for what I should do when they call me.

Looseyfur said...

They actually ask you those kinds of questions a crazy amount of times. They go over it when they show the video.

The judge reminds you at least six times that the accused is presumed innocent. The defense attorney asks the questions at least one or two different ways. Then if there's a flag... like I got brought into a DV case where people had to admit if they knew someone who was an alleged abuser or a survivor/victim, then they have to start over again with a line of questions to see if you really think you can be unbiased and come to a verdict based on the facts.

If there's a whiff of anything else, the judge excuses you immediately.

The Fearless Freak said...

Guilty! Everyone is guilty! They wouldn't be there if they weren't. Defendant, Plaintiff, everyone of those bastards are guilty. Can I go home now? :)

Hopefully you either get dismissed early or get a really awesome and interesting case.