Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm Back!

Yesterday I reported for Jury Duty. I have not been on Jury Duty since the early 70s. Then I was on Jury Duty three times in the same year: The Grand Jury, a Superior Court jury, and a Pettit jury…. But it is all a blur.

We were to report at 8:00. Misjudging my time, I arrived at 6:45, One hour and fifteen minutes early. I reported to a dark room with no one there. I sat down and enjoyed the solitude.

About 7:15 in came a very decently dressed man that looked to be about my age. We buddied up for a while. He is a retired New York City detective. He was very gentle and polite. Now, he is also a preacher. He shared with me that he played hooky Sunday and he and his new wife headed to north Georgia to look at the leaves. He said he went to Blairsville and Brasstown Bald. Of course, he got a brief Hunter history lecture.

By 7:50 there were just a few people there- I told the detective/preacher there were not enough people to have one jury, forget about two. Then, in just ten minutes the place looked completely different. A lot of people had arrived. I don’t see how people can squeeze so close to the scheduled time.

Wait! After 8:00 more people arrived. Up to a dozen people dribbled in all way up to 8:55. Good Lord!

There were plenty of magazines and books. If you were sitting around doing nothing you find a paperback book to read – but I don’t see how you could finish those 500 and 600 page books in your short stay there… they also had a lot of magazines. I picked up and flipped through a National Geographic.

In the back of the potential jury people’s room was two coffee pots, one regular and one decaffeinated. On each side of the room in the back was a door. One had Women on it and one had Men on it.

In the Men’s restroom you can hear the lady on a speaker. There was a speaker above my head as I was standing at the urinal. I heard her say, “Raise your right hand and if you confirm what I say, say something like “I do” or “Affirmative” or whatever.”

Well, I could raise my right hand but then I would have to put my left hand to use. What if somebody came in would it look like I was mocking the whole swearing-in system?

I hurriedly finished my business, washed my hands and got out in the main room, just in time to mumble something affirmative.

And what is bad, apparently the kind hearted bailiff or jury clerk let them get away with it. Why even have a scheduled time?

They lady court clerk told us that the ten or so people that did not show up will be dealt with severely. Hah! I bet!

They called names and formed a group and left with them to the a courtroom. Then, they got up the names of another group, which included me and we went to another courtroom.

This time I was one of probably 50 potential jurors to be interviewed. The very nice looking judge-lady asked the questions. She was friendly smiling, sometimes laughing, and willing to overlook the blunders of us simpleton laymen.

She would ask a question to the whole group and then asked if it applied to you, then you raised your hand and you got to tell the details, and sometimes they were juicy – which we as potential jurors also had nose problems.

Like one girl had to tell about her four siblings who got into trouble – some serious, some not…… I think that fell under “Are you related to anybody that has ever been arrested?”

The judge told at the beginning if it was too embarrassing you could ask to approach the bench and have the counsel move in for better hearing – but nobody did that – everybody that qualified spilled their guts more or less…. And it was over 50% of the room.

I told about my daddy and they asked if anybody ever had a law enforcement person as a relative.

Not only did it seem over 50% had criminals as relatives, or they themselves, but also many of the same were CEOs, presidents, and department heads… the two groups overlapped.

A questionnaire was handed out. We were to stand up, one at a time and tell our answer to each question. They even wanted to know if you had any bumper stickers on your car, and if so what. We don’t have any bumper sticker on either car.

The lady next to me said she had a McCain – Palin sticker, one for the church she belongs to – one religious statement, one animal shelter statement and maybe another one. She interrupted herself and said, “They are all put on very neatly, not gaudy!”

About a dozen people had McCain stickers. One had an Obama sticker.

They wanted to know what your profession was, and if you are retired like me, you was to tell what you were retired from. When I said I was retired from the Postal Service the defense lawyer made a mark on his pad…. I think he crossed out my name.

My jury duty session doesn’t end until the end of this week. I have to call every evening to see if they need me the next day. I feel I need to hold a sign up saying, “Will be a Juror for Food”.



Blogger Si's blog said...

On voting day, the thought of doing our duty to the community and to our founding fathers jumps to mind immediately. Jury duty is one of those duties. A relative routinely comes up with weak excuses and the clerk accepts them without question. There needs to be a change in attitude.

A neat anecdote. Well written and interesting.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Great story! Love the speaker in the restroom, I wonder how many folks follow those directions?

3:51 AM  
Blogger ET said...

The famous Brian Nichols murder trial in Atlanta is going on now - I heard the judge there fined jurors with contempt of court when they show late.

I suppose they all did but me. They were plain view.

5:15 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I have always wanted to be on jury duty, but the one time I went to the courthouse, they sat the jury before they ever interviewed me.

Now that I'm retired (mostly), I'm hoping I'll be called again.

5:39 AM  
Blogger ET said...

As such of a positive social person you are, if you are ever called I bet you will be picked .... and not only that you will probably be the foreman!

6:19 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

My last Jury Duty was just calling in each Friday for 3 months to see if I was to report on Monday. I never had to. It was just so boring. Of all times to have a lull in the local doping/thieving/murder community!

2:36 PM  
Blogger ET said...

Darn! I'm sorry. It would be so nice and exciting if you could sit in on a trial of a mass chain saw murderer or a mad rapist or a good con-artist swindling hundreds of elderly out of their life saving. Maybe next time.

4:00 PM  

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