Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jury Duty Is Over, Now Get Back To Work!

Now that my first ever jury duty is finished without actually being chosen to sit on a jury it’s time for my final reflections. Twice my name was called to be in the voir dire and twice my presence was not required. After the second time the judge excused those of us not selected from further service for the week and just like that, after three days my jury duty experience was over. I answered all of the questions put forth honestly and didn’t hold back which is probably why they didn’t want me. Unlike many others, during my service I made little effort in interacting with my fellow jurors, as is my nature. It’s not as if I hate people or anything, I’m just slow to feel comfortable around strangers and usually I prefer my own company. I’m not sure if that sounds arrogant but this was time that I was able to indulge myself reading and writing. Kind of an extended “me” time, which if you’ve ever been married or had a kid, you know can be in short supply. If only I’d have remembered my headphones I would have been watching movies to while away the time as well.

For some reason many people just didn’t understand the simple rules set forth. Either that or they felt they didn’t apply to them. First we were told during a jury pull (when potential jurors are chosen to participate in the voir dire) to remain seated unless our name was called. If your name was called then you were to sound off with in any way you liked, so long as it could be heard. That way it was clear that you were on your way over to the front to be taken upstairs. Both of those rules were constantly ignored. People were up and moving around, going to the bathroom or throwing away trash, none of which are things that cannot wait for a few minutes. Some answered very softly in a big room full of walls set at angles, filled by several hundred people. Some didn’t answer at all, seemingly sure that by their movement it should be known they were on their way. Two simple rules that couldn’t be followed. I didn’t understand it at all. Some people just think that the rules don’t apply to them no matter where they are.

Choices of clothing were an interesting thing to notice for me. There were several people who wore their work uniform the first day but abandoned it after that. One younger person wore long, baggy shorts and flip flops. On the other side of it many people were very well dressed, you could almost say they were wearing their Sunday best. I myself dressed on the lower end of the business casual scale. There are only extremely rare occasions where you can find me in a dress shirt and tie and even rarer ones that I would wear a suit, my wedding being one of those. As a matter of fact I don’t even care for wearing a dress shirt period. Mainly I dressed as I would at my job except for Wednesday when I wore jeans. Part of me wondered if those that wore their work uniforms were doing so in an effort to get dismissed from further duty. I further wondered if others dressed down in an effort not to be picked for a jury. In the end I don’t really know if that was what they intended. I’m not trying to say who was right or wrong in the clothes that they wore (other than the shorts and flip flops), I’m just making observations here. You are to free to wear what you want when you report for jury duty, just don’t be surprised if the judge calls you on it.

Lastly, as each day went by you realized what a long, boring process this could be. There was a lot of waiting in the jury room where we were supposed to remain and nobody else was allowed to enter. Unless you count that one lady was there with her boyfriend/husband and tried to spend the entire day with him. She was caught in the jury room and told to leave so they both sat on a bench right outside the door. Later she tried coming back in to use the restroom but she was rebuffed. What surprised me was once you knew just had tedious it could be, some people didn’t bring a book, an electronic device or anything else for that matter. I brought a book and my laptop and used both extensively. I can’t imagine coming in every day with nothing to occupy my time, it would make the day seem interminable. To each his own I guess.

There were many different kinds of people from a wide age range and from all walks of life. I’m sure there were many interesting people with stories to tell but I didn’t hear any of them. There were one or two that I was thinking of asking some questions of if I’d come back today or tomorrow but it was not to be. Like life the trials will go on, some people will share and some like me will keep to themselves, making observations and enjoying their solitude in a room full of people. For me, jury duty is no longer in session.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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