Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are there really people who enjoy jury duty?

Today I did my civic duty and sat for jury duty -- sat being the operative word.

The day began with me racing to get out the door, only to sit in rush hour traffic for over 35 minutes. Then sitting in the courthouse for over 30 minutes for my fellow jurors to saunter in. Then watching a repetitive video that anyone who has ever watched a courtroom drama, done jury duty before, studied American history or jurisprudence, or had more than an ounce of common sense did not need to see.

Only to have the jury instructions repeated, nearly verbatim, with a few anecdotes thrown in, moments later by a judge who had clearly never seen the video. A judge who solemnly informed us that every juror he ever spoke with after a case assured him that being on a jury was one of the most "fascinating" or "interesting" experiences he ever had -- with at least one overwhelmed juror telling the judge that "he could now cross 'jury duty' off his bucket list."

Seriously? Someone had "jury duty" on his bucket list? Maybe if that jury was on the set of The Good Wife. But for reals? Isn't that setting the bar kind of low?

Or maybe I just don't find people suing each other that exciting. Though the first time I ever sat (sat being the operative word) for jury duty back in New York, when I had just graduated from college, Phil Donohue sat practically next to me. This was back when you had to show up for jury duty for two whole weeks. And Phil Donohue was a big deal. (I told this to the mother of a toddler sitting next to me and she just shuddered -- about the serving for two weeks, not Phil Donohue. Though I'm guessing she had no idea who Phil Donohue was.)

Before any of you lay into me for disparaging jury duty, or lecture me on the importance of the jury system and my civic duty, stop. I get it. And I would be happy, well, maybe not happy, but totally okay with sitting on a jury for a day or two if I knew that right after I walked in I would actually be part of a jury, that morning, and be on my way that afternoon. Or the next day.

Seriously, you would think after hundreds of years, someone would have figured out a way to make jury duty more efficient, instead of wasting people's time. (I also didn't and wouldn't be paid or reimbursed as I am self-employed. I know: So much for my civic pride.)

But enough of me complaining. What do you all think of jury duty? Do you enjoy it? Do any of you have "serving on a jury" on your bucket list? Do tell.


Dave S. said...

That judge was laying it on a bit thick. That being said, as long as trial by jury (with voir dire) is part of our legal system I'm not sure there's any way around herding a bunch of citizens together for (possible) eventual selection for actual jury duty. To reverse-paraphrase Sherman, I will show up if summoned, and will serve if selected.

When I lived in DC the court system was very efficient in calling me every two years or so, during which time I made it to the courtroom a handful of times and only once - in fact, the first time around - was I convinced I was going to be on the jury. I believe I was the last rejection, yay justice system! Most of the time we would be dismissed by early afternoon owing to the nature of the cases that particular day (relatively few, lots of plea-bargains etc.). Note also that the juries were for criminal as opposed to civil cases, so it was sometimes not so much a breach of contract as breach of abdominal cavity.

Having lived in Arlington for almost six years, I have been called once. I had to ask to be excused on account of a medical condition that landed me in the ER later that day. They not only excused me, but said I wouldn't have to come back for five years.

I guess the bottom line here is DEAR GOD I LOVE LIVING IN ARLINGTON.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind. I get to read.

Though there was one time that I was called and selected for the Jury Pool for a murder of a Police officer in front of his partner. Potential Death Penalty case. I was not selected-guess they were not interested in the blonde white girl. So glad not selected. I don't ever want that much responsibility on my shoulders.