Jury Duty. Oh Happy Day!

1484720_10152025296327605_2068610248_nOh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness! I’m sixty years old, I have voted in every election since I was eighteen (although Nixon was a real disappointment, if I’m honest about it), and I have yearned — yearned I tell you — to serve on a jury. But I have never been called. Nope, not once. I’ve really felt it was personal for the last twenty-something years. And then, yesterday, like the arrival of the Omaha Sweepstakes (come on, in this year that is going to be my year), I got my first Summons for Juror Service. I even love the title. I have been “summoned” by my beloved country to “serve” as a possible juror on an actual court case. Oh, happy day!

My desire to serve started in college, with the Patty Hearst trial. I wanted to move to California and offer my services. I knew she was not guilty, and I felt I could be very helpful. Since then there has not been a major case of public interest that has not made me want to be a juror. It’s come up many times, when friends have complained about being called. I’ve offered to dye my hair and take their place. I’ve pointed out that the country doesn’t demand much of our time if you think about it, and since we do have the finest judicial system in the world, it’s the least we can do right? They look at me in that disdainful way you look at someone who tries to tell you something is going to be fine, when you know it’s going to be awful and you know they have never had to deal with it. You know the type. I am not that type, I swear. I am not a Pollyanna.

Think about it. Where else do you have to judge someone else? Not turn the other cheek? We all walk around quoting that ridiculous “Judge not, lest ye be judged” philosophy, which is good advice, but goes against our bitchy inner selves, which often need to vent. On top of that, the idea that I could also run in a popularity contest with strangers to be the foreman (Is it foreperson now? I so want to be politically correct when I speak of my work as a juror) of the fabulous jury I will be on is almost more than I can take. Happy dance, for sure!

I came home after getting the summons, filled out the card, and then immediately went back to the post office to mail it, just in case they changed their minds or there was a fire at my house. I am confident that I can lose weight before April 2nd. (If it had said April 1st I would have known it was one of my nasty BFFs playing a joke on me, but it was the 2nd. Phew.) I will buy a new black suit to ensure that I don’t appear frivolous to those deciding which case will be mine. I will carry my orange briefcase (orange is the new black, you know), and I will bring a note pad with my initials on it. And my Swarovski pencils, which look way cool when you are writing with them. It’s a plan.

I even have a badge number of my very own — 038551864. Hi, it’s me, Christine, 038551864. Oh, happy day.

But then I realized there are issues. I woke up at 1:00 a.m. in a panic. I realized that being called to jury duty is really just an invitation to try out to be on a jury. Gads. I’m in marketing and my fabulous cousin Gary pointed out at last dinner that I can strategize how to get on the jury, and I should be able to do it. He also said he thinks I’d be great on a jury because I always cut to the chase. I think I’ll take it as a compliment.

So I’m a little stressed about it. I do so want to be chosen. I know that jumping up and down in front of the lawyers as they are doing their choosing and shouting, “Pick me. Choose me. Love me!” might not serve me well. I will have to put a lid on it for sure. So, it’s a primary election for me to get on the jury and then a general election to get picked as the foreperson. I’m thinking when we sit as a jury and say we have to pick a foreperson, I will pull out some baked goods or other, and then I’m in. Right? I have much to go to get ready. Guess that’s why they give you four months notice. Put out good thoughts on April 2nd. Will let you know how it all goes.

5 comments to Jury Duty. Oh Happy Day!

  • Reed Baer

    Getting On the jury is nothing — I repeat, nothing. No special kudos from me if you do that. What you really need to aim for, sister, is Jury Forewoman. The juror in charge, the one who calls for the votes, the one who sends notes to the judge, the one calls the shots, the one who tells the bailiff that yes, lunch will be sent in, the one who, in response to the judge’s solemn question, “Has the jury reached a verdict?”, gets to stand, gets to have everyone in the courtroom stare at them, and then has the opportunity to answer, “Yes, your Honor.” And then pronounce guilt or not-guilt, and maybe even money damages in a civil case. Swell music, cut to courtroom expressions of glee, or sorrow. So Christine, go big, or go home.

  • Paula

    Your fellow jurors will elect you foreperson for your stand-up comedy abilities alone.

    I’ve served on a criminal case jury and on a grand jury. Both were fascinating, but I left both experiences with new doubts about the jury system. I don’t know of a better one, mind you; it’s just that I wasn’t very impressed with many of my fellow jurors.

    In the criminal trial, one of the jurors slept through most of the testimony, and when it came time for us to deliberate, he said, “You guys decide. I don’t really care.” Great. Most of the others seemed to have trouble understanding the charges (attempted homicide, aggravated assault), and so I and the only other rather with-it juror, a lawyer, ended up pretty much running things. This was right after the old rule about lawyers not being allowed on juries was rescinded.

    The grand jury was amazing. We had to take an oath that we would never reveal anything that happened during our term, and I’ve been good about that so far. But I can say that it was fascinating to see how the D.A.’s office handles cases (we heard many over 4 weeks), how they decide which ones merit even being brought before the grand jury, and how witnesses are handled. One of the cases was really horrible, and several of us kept in touch after our term and followed the case as it was brought to trial. We wanted to see that justice, the justice we had such a big part in, was served.

    I’m glad it’s harder now to get out of jury service, because the very people who used to avoid it are the ones we need: educated, intelligent, articulate people. It’s certainly a hardship for many to serve on a jury, but it’s one of the prices we pay for our system of government.

    Don’t get your hopes up, though; sometimes the main cattle call is just that, and many people get sent home the first day, at least in NY. They call a ton of people, but behind the scenes there may be plea deals going on, leading to fewer trials than they expected when they called all those potential jurors. You may never get to shine in your voir dire, my dear.

  • Kathy

    Hi there,

    I’m your exact age, and I’ve been “summoned” for jury duty in
    several times. The last time, I not only got on a jury…I
    was the foreperson! I was SO excited. But wouldn’t you know it, about
    30 minutes later, a mistrial was called. Bummer. : (

    It was fun watching the whole jury selection process, though. I’m sure
    you’ll enjoy it.

    Have a great day!

    Kathy

  • Marie

    I have served often and happily, I found it a great anthropologic escape and a great chance to read a book when I could have been working, now you can bring your computer and stay plugged in during the down time–and work.
    In any case, I hope you don’t suffer the same frustration when I first served decades ago…I was a juror for a VERY VERY VERY boring (did I say BORING?) arson case. No drama, lots of tedious details, boring lawyers. After a long week doing my best to stay alert and pay attention to the details the case was sent to the jury. About 10 minutes later we told, they settled the case! We had to go through the pain and suffering of sitting and then not given the chance to express our opinion! I was fuming and so was every juror. I can no longer remember how I would have voted, I just remember feeling that justice had cheated me.

  • …..and there’s the number you have to call on Sunday night only to find…there are no trials this week. Your services will not be needed…

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