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Tuesday, September 12, 2006


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I had a summons for jury duty in my mail box when I returned home from being gone 2 weeks on my honeymoon and 2nd reception. The date to reply that you had received the notice had passed and I thought I might have a warrant out for my arrest. :) My number never got called so I didn't have to go in and there luckily was no warrant!

Hmmm, let's see if I can remember all of the scintillating details. Oh, yes. I sat in a room reading magazines for about an hour, then they sent me home. ;)

By some freak of chance, I have never been called (and I'm 30, how did I manage this?). I assume it'll happen eventually, and then more than likely I'll have to bow out due to childcare concerns.

1. Sat in the horrible room for most of the day before being dismissed.

2. Delayed, then dismissed before having to go.

3. Called to first jury, last person on the list but only 6 needed. And I got picked. Two days later, we found the guy guilty and I think the defense attorney realized I was a mistake (I was also foreperson as a bonus). And I don't know about Sarah's state, but childcare issues here are not an excuse. I was the youngest and the only one with a small child. No dice.

(and we did have to take one little break during the first day, because I, in the excitement of fulfilling my civic duty, fell promptly asleep in the jury box)

I have always wanted to be on a jury. My first summons came from Mecklenburg County, NC--two weeks after I moved to Michigan. My second came from Wayne County, Michigan, shortly after I had my son, and all I had to say was "nursing mother of newborn" before they recoiled in terror and tore up my summons. The third call was in Oakland County, MI a few years ago. It took a while to be called into a courtroom, and I never nade it to a jury box. Probably a good thing, as the defendant was charged with a sexual act against a child. The issue at trial looked like it was going to be whether the victim correctly identified the defendant as her attacker. He had only one ear, and I'm thinking that's probably a distinguishing characteristic. If I'd gotten on the jury I would have had a hard time being neutral.

I served on a murder jury for a three week trial. At the end of it we all agreed he might well have done it but not definitely beyond a reasonable doubt. So we had to acquit. He went back to jail to continue his life sentence for the murder he had been convicted of! It was all more imposing than a trial on your side of the Atlantic though; over here we have gowns and wigs and the judge gets adressed as "My Lord". Well it usually comes out as "M'Lud". Best of all Counsel tear strips off each other while referring all the while to "my learned friend".

I loved jury duty! The first time I got called, I had two children, age 2 and one in the infant car seat. All I had to do was show up with them and they laughed and said don't worry about it. I didn't need to prove that they were mine, so we joked about setting up outside the courthouse and renting out the kids to get people out of jury duty.

10 years later, I got called again and got on two trials and was jury foreman for both of them. They were both criminal cases of small magnitude. The most interesting thing was that it was shortly after 9/11/01 and the man who had one of the crimes committed against him was from an Arab country and Muslim and had a very thick accent; he was a student at our local university. The lawyers asked the potential jury members if any of us were prejudiced against him because of 9/11 and every one of us said no, so I thought that was a good thing. We found the guy that stole from him guilty in less than 5 minutes.

I've been called 4 times, and I've been excused every time. The first two were in my parent's county, and I was away at college, so all I had to do was check off a box that basically said, can't serve because living away at college.

The next time I was called was for the first week of school - ironically it was law school. I went in to get excused - they said - can't you serve the first two days of the week (classes actually started on Wednesday). I pointed out that in law school, you get your assignments a few days before school starts and I had a zillion pages to read before class started. They gave up and let me go.

The fourth time was when I was on bedrest with DD - K took them the doctor excuse. He reported that they seem to not understand the term "bedrest". They said - this is not strenuous activity, can't she just come and sit? DH said - No. She isn't even allowed to sit up at home except for meals. They said - why? that's not normal for pregnancy. (Like, um, yeah, right. that's the point. What part of medical excuse was not going through their heads?) After a couple iterations of this, they confirmed that I had a medical excuse and I was excused.

That was over 10 years ago and I haven't been called again. I've provided child care to two different friends who had to go serve though - that counts, right?

My jury duty experience was quite horrible. We live in a small town and my husband works for the sheriff's office so everyone in the court house knows who he is. Inlcuding the defense attorney. Throughout the whole morning she kept trying to ruffle my feathers and trying to get me excused without using one of her "wild cards". Finally, we were all asked some personal questions and I asked that we speak in chambers with the judge since I didn't want the WHOLE town to know my business.

Not knowing both attorneys, the defendant, and a co-worker of my husbands would be there in his chambers, I had to in detail explain some very private things to the judge. The thing that gets me is the defense attorney knew the entire time that she wanted me excused due to my husbands postition, yet made me go through all the hoops anyway!!!! I hope I never have to serve jury duty again, and I was really looking forward to doing my civic duty and sitting on the jury.

I'm confused. You only have to show up on one day? Here in the UK, jury service lasts at least a week, even if you don't get called. I did jury service just after finishing my degree and had a very boring few days, sitting around in the local crown court canteen. Every so often someone would come and call some names, then you'd troop through to the court room where they'd call 12 names out and if you weren't selected, you went back and sat down again to wait for the next call. I did abut three days of sitting about, then got on to a jury for a trial, which lasted a couple of days and then finally got sent home at the end of the week. The sitting around part was fairly mindless, but the actual case was interesting and sad - it involved a man with schizophrenia who'd pushed over a little old lady. We first had to decide whether he was fit to stand trial or not. It was obvious he wasn't. Then the trial went ahead, but rather than a guilty/non-guilty choice, we had to decide whether he had done what he'd been accused of and if we decided he had, it would be noted in his record and he would be referred to the local mental health services. Something like that. More interesting than some of the traffic offences and drug dealing trials that were going on in other court rooms, but also tragic.

I LOVED jury duty. I was called in Los Angeles County, and usually you get stuck going downtown or somewhere nasty but I hit the jackpot and went to Santa Monica. It was closer to home than my real job. I packed a lunch and ate at the beach every day. The people on the jury were super-nice (anyone who has lived in LA knows that this just doesn't happen -- people don't usually talk to you!). The trial lasted a little over a week -- it was a civil trial (dental malpractice) so it's not like I was sending someone innocent to jail or something so it wasn't too stressful. The hard part was not telling my husband all about it every day! One guy did get kicked off the jury when he revealed that his day job was editor of an "adult personsals" magazine. The cool part was after the trial the lawyers wanted to talk to us to get our impressions of how they did and what we thought of their witnesses and stuff like that. I think I am the only person I know that actually ENJOYED jury duty.

I've been called twice and both times I was pregnant. Once hugely pregnant, once newly pregnant. Such that next time I get a jury summons, I'm going to take a pregnancy test if I don't already know I'm pregnant.

When I was hugely pregnant, I called ahead because I had bad morning sickness and had to sip water constantly in order to avoid dehydration. I was told this was not enough of an excuse to be let off, so I went. The guards took away my water bottle when I went in for jury selection, even though I explained I'd probably end up throwing up. They pointed to a wastebasket and suggested I take the seat closest to it. Luckily, this was a child abuse case. I was asked if I was a first-time mother, which I was, and the defendent immediately asked that I be excused, which I was. I don't know if that was because they thought I couldn't be impartial or if it was because I was a sickly shade of green by then. I left the courtroom, found the restroom to "settle" my stomach, collected my $10 check and left.

The second time, I was newly pregnant, so new that the really bad morning sickness hadn't started yet (I usually have 10-14 days after the positive pregnancy test). Knowing that morning sickness wouldn't let me off, I showed up on time. I was chosen for the jury, and it was a criminal trial -- drunk driving & reckless endangerment on a suspended license. It was really fascinating how LITTLE information each side told us to try to color our judgement. In the end, we convicted him unanimously. It was hard for me because I felt like I didn't have all the facts, but the facts as presented led me to only one conclusion: guilty. The judge called us into his chambers and told us we did the right thing as this man had already been convicted 6 times and served 12 years in prison for the same crime, and he needed to be off the streets. Which explains why the defense attorney did such a lousy job of setting up his case, which was basically that the guy had refuse a breathalizer test so there was no telling if he was drunk or not, and three of the eye-witnesses only could identify the car, not the drive. The car that crashed into a post and from which the accused was extracted -- not much of a chance that he changed places with the Real Culprit, is there?

It was interesting in many ways. A three-day strain on my life, to be sure, but fascinating.

I was called my junior year in college. The day I went in it was snowing; there were supposed to be a larger number of trials, but ending up being only one because of the weather. Out of the 200+ people there, I was one of the I think 36 who got brought in, but was excused because the lawyer for the plaintiffs (in a case where a fishing boat was taken as colateral by a fuel company when the fishermen didn't pay their bill, and then was burgled while in the custody of the fuel company; the lawsuit was to determine whether the oil company was at fault for not properly securing the boat and it's very expensive equipment) turned out to be the father of some of my college classmates, a high school classmate of my Dad's. Not that this would have stopped me from being impartial - I wasn't close to any of the kids and had never met the father before, so it wasn't a conflict of interest as far as I was concerned - but considering the number of people they had for the trial, the judge didn't even ask me about that, and just let me go.

I was called again about a year later, which I was able to avoid because I had just served/been excused. I was called again perhaps 3 years later to the federal court, for the day after Columbus Day. Turns out they had also called people for Columbus Day by accident, so they transfered those people to the day after, and had myself and the other heaven knows how many people call a hotline every Friday until December - no exaggeration - until they were finally sure they didn't want us. They broke us down into groups alphabetically by last name, and my last name was in the only group not called.

Now that I was pretty scared of, I have to admit; I'd kind of like to be on a jury, but I had two coworkers end up on Federal grand juries; one served 3 days a week for 6 months, and the other, 1 day a week for a year and a half.

All in all, way more of an answer than you needed, I'm sure, but there it is.

Ironically enough, I just had jury duty last Friday. Here, in Boston. When I'm only here for college and I live in Indiana. Yeah... they don't let students off here; they make us skip class, which did not please me at all. I wouldn't have minded so much if it had been in my home state, or even if I paid taxes here or was registered to vote here, but I don't & I'm not.

Thankfully, I had a similar situation. Except, we got issued numbers from 1-500. The lower numbers were called first. I was 253, so I never even got called. I just got stuck there for 6 hours sitting in a very, very cold room with a skirt & blouse on. I had a bit of a cold this past weekend because of it. And the lady there was really mean to me. And, uh, I didn't get paid any money whatsoever. Boston stinks. :o(

The first time I was called that I wasn't in college out of town, I decided I wanted to go. I took the summons to HR at my company, a retail store chain ya'll have shopped at. This was over 10 yrs ago - they said they'd get me out of it. I said I thought I should go, to uh, "get it over with". I really just wanted out of the office for a potential week. They were aghast, but couldn't do anything.
So - that day I wake up LATE and drive like 80 miles an hour to the other side of the county where the courthouse was. I was sure I'd be arrested. No one cared, not a bit. I just sat in a room, not properly groomed, and thought - this is probably a good place for singles to find a date.
In my state, these days, you are excused if you are the sole full-time caregiver to minor children. My mother told me never to show up at the courthouse with the kids - she saw a mother get *screamed* at for doing that. I photocopy the birth certificates, attach a letter, and mail it in return receipt.
I'd love to sit on a jury, but until the wee ones are older I'd be less worried about how the court viewed my intelligence and more worried about getting home on time for the kids. Even the obviously guilty deserve a less distracted mind than mine!

Oh yeah - after racing to that courthouse, my jury was let go without even going in to be questioned, because the defendant had taken a plea bargin. We still got those 4-year "done duty" slips and we got thanked for basically doing nothing. Retail chain HR took my itty bitty payment from the court, but I got paid for the one day.

Oh! I'm envious! I've always wanted to get called for jury duty!

In Australia they give you a number and you have to be available for a month long period. You might only have to go into 4 or 5 times during that time to sit and wait to see if there are any trials. Then they take you into the court room and if you are unlucky they call your name. I have been called twice. The last time I turned up at 9:00, read until 12 / 1:00 and then was told we were not needed. Sigh. My work was very impressed

I was called for grand jury duty. For a month I woke up late, got to the court house around 9, took 1 1/2 hour lunches and left by 2:30 or so. My company paid my full 40 hours while I worked essentially part time. I had a cross stitch project I worked on during down times. The bad part? Grand jury duty excuses me from service for 10 years instead of 5. :(

Hey, I served the same day as you!

And the day after that. Sounds like our experiences were similar, except I got kicked off by the prosecutor instead of the defense. It was, at least, an interesting experience, AND I finished my book club selection! :)

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