For almost two months I have been dreading today. I had to report for jury duty at 8 am. That’s about the time I normally roll out of bed, so being at the courthouse dressed, caffeinated, and coherent by then was more than a little stressful.
I found out I could take my laptop and did so, anticipating long periods of inactivity and having fallen into the pathetic modern habit of being more entertained by a video game than a good book. To the credit of the local court system, however, there was no period of idleness long enough to warrant pulling out the computer. That left me hauling around a totally unnecessary leather attaché and laptop. It was my first experience with this very common activity and all I can say is the whole thing was a lot heavier and more cumbersome than I’d imagined. Or maybe students and business people are just really strong …
The voir dire was interesting — moreso maybe because I was not among those being questioned until the very end, after perhaps half a dozen other people had been excused. By then I’d deduced that although we were originally told the case involved a $500 personal damage claim (a jury trial for that!?), it also involved domestic violence, a criminal record, and a defendant who apparently did not plan to testify.
I don’t know which of my answers got me disqualified — not that I was trying to get disqualified. But my spontaneous answers included saying I thought domestic violence was “reprehensible”; that of course someone with a criminal record could tell the truth and deserved a fair hearing, but that if they had a lengthy record, I might doubt their credibility; and that if an innocent defendant did not testify on his own behalf, although he certainly had the right not to speak, I’d probably wonder if he was keeping silent because he had something to hide.
The prosecution excused me. I’ll never know why. Maybe something I said, maybe because I expressed a concern about being kept till 5 pm and fearing a drive home after dark, or maybe just because I looked like his mother-in-law. In any case, it was a huge relief. I honestly can’t see after dark, I don’t drive after dark, and I was petrified I’d get stuck doing that. So although I was curious about the case, I was not at all sorry to walk out of the courthouse at 10:30 am, free to drive home in bright sunshine.