Civic duty done

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.

jury dutyI 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.

2 comments

  1. Dang. They never call me for jury duty and I think I would find it interesting. 12 Angry Men, redux, maybe. Maybe they don’t want inquisitive minds on juries though. I have long harbored a feeling that I don’t get on lists because I’m retired military, but, how would they know that? Am I on a list somewhere? “This guy is always contrary – avoid like the plague.”

    My wife, Mollie, was on an interesting jury a few years ago – it was an arson case where a business owner was suspected of setting fire to his own business because it was in financial trouble. He was guilty and went to the slammer.

    1. I, too, have always thought it would be interesting to be on a jury. If it weren’t for the possible night driving, I’d have been happy to serve this time. If they’d just call me up during the summer, I think I’d be a great juror.

      As for getting on the list in the first place, your state must not be trying very hard. Around here they go through drivers licenses, tax records, property records, etc. to find eligible people. I’ve only been in Colorado since 2005 and I think this is the third time I’ve been summoned. You might be right about the retired military thing. They probably figure you’ve already done more than your share of service to the community.

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