I’m that girl with that story of how she always gets called in for jury duty even though her husband has never once gotten a summons in the last nine years he was eligible. “Why me?!?!?” I moan in agony every time (okay, all three times) I’ve received the dreaded form. I understand our court system works because of the millions of people who serve on jury trials each year, but, I am just way to important to be called. I have stuff to do. Like, blogging!
Anyone who is as self serving as I am will admit that upon receiving a jury summons, you automatically start thinking of all the things to say to assure you don’t get put on a trial. The classic advice from anyone who has never been called is, “Just tell them you’re racist.” Yeah, sure. I’ll tell a room full of people I’m racist when in actuality that is the furthest thing from true. What a perfect way to tarnish my own reputation for the sake of saving a few days of my time.
I showed up this morning prepped for a long day of sitting–since that’s been the case in my other experiences. I brought oodles of snacks (a must!), my laptop (hoping for free wifi!) and my new 1,000 page novel (World Without End. How appropriate for jury duty). As luck would have it– LESLEY MILLER– is called upstairs to become Juror #2.
It’s a funny thing, jury duty. In past experiences I’ve left bitter because I sat all day, never got called, and never saw how the process works. Yet when you’re actually in the running to be picked, like I was, panic sets in. I was trapped in a tiny little room with no windows, someone writing down everything I say, and a man next to me with really, really bad breath. I started thinking of excuses to get off the trial until I realized all 50 people in the room get to listen to your answers. People before me tried all kinds of things: a diabetic needed to use the restroom every 45 minutes (“Not good enough!” says the judge), a man claims he’s the only person at his business who knows how to do his job, (“Tough luck for your company!” says the judge), a woman has plane tickets next week to see her 13 year old son who is in a psych ward (“Sorry! Should have told us earlier!” says the judge).
I realize I’m in trouble.
The case is centered on a home burglary. In any case, jurors are asked questions about how their own personal experiences relate to what the case is about. My heart starts fluttering when I realize that maybe, just maybe, my recent office burglary would help get me off the hook. I try to look as victimized as possible when it’s my turn to speak, but since I haven’t acted since The Music Man in 1995, I think my attempt was futile.
The judge asks, “Would your recent experience cause you to be unable to fairly judge this case?” (or something along those lines)…and I sorta froze. In all honesty, I think I’m a fair person who’s logical and can separate my experiences from the facts in a courtroom. In some ways, I pride myself for looking at all sides of an issue. And yet I also know that we all have biases. Was I frustrated after my office’s robbery? Of course. Did I feel somewhat violated? Yup.
So, I answer, “I would hope not.” (Hoping that my indecisive answer would be picked up so that I might get let off the hook!)
But when it came down to it, I believe it was my sweet, sweet, husband who saves me. I start getting asked a lot of questions about his intern work and within two hours, I’m sent back to the jury pool downstairs where I watch Napoleon Dynamite and tweet for the remainder of the day. Apparently, defense lawyers don’t like prosecutors or their family members. Go figure.
And now I’m home… just me, my Real Simple Magazine and a slice of watermelon. I’ve done my duty. I’ve served my country well (cue dramatic Full House background music). It’s all in a day’s work.
Update as of 9/25/09: Just read this editorial in today’s Sac Bee about a journalist’s experience with jury duty. I think it’s a nice addition to my post: Click here.