Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jury Duty Man Has His Day

Not A Bird,
Not A Plane:
It's Jury Duty Man!!
Today I reported to the Seattle Municipal Court for jury duty. I'd gotten the notice a couple of weeks ago and, while I can't honestly say that I looked forward to donating my time to the cause of justice, still it's something that you just have to do. We all take our turn and that makes the system work and it's good citizenship etc etc etc.
For some reason, I've yet to serve on a jury even though I've been old enough for nearly 4 decades. The only time I've been summonsed before was to a Massachusetts court shortly after I moved back to Washington State, and the court allowed the 3000-mile commute a sufficient hardship to let me go.
This time around, I was ready. Sure, it's an inconvenience but it's an inconvenience for everybody, and I can't honestly say it's worse for me than for anybody else.
I took the bus in with Kris, grabbed a coffee, and strolled to the courthouse. There was a loooong line of people all with the same blank look on our faces: I tried a couple courses of "Jury Duty" to the tune of Frankie Vally's "Sherry Baby" and got a few smiles.
The metal detectors seemed to be turned up higher than I remember the last time I was there (over a ticket for expired tabs - I was guilty as heck but plead down the fine), because I was told to remove my belt if it has any metal in the buckle. It's not a big buckle but off it went. Perhaps there's a market for plastic belt buckles for court regulars.
In line for the elevator ahead of me was a Lardge Complaining Man. He was half-humorously, half-seriously pointing out how awful this was, and how much he hoped he could get out of it. When we got to the jury waiting room, there was a one-page form to fill out, free coffee and lots of chairs in several different styles. I guess they recognize that different people fit into chairs differently!
When the time came to turn in the forms, Lardge Complaining Man was let go. I don't know whether he got off permanently or whether it was just a delay to another time. He seemed happy but I was sure I'd just as soon do it now and get it over.
There was a little TV movie about how important juries are and basic rules, such as do not talk about the case you're assigned to. Then we were told we'd have to wait while the various courts worked out what pools were needed. If we didn't get into a jury today, we'd come back tomorrow and probably the next day; because there were no big trials coming up, it was extremely unlikely we'd go past Friday. This was comforting; knowing the maximum time to be used means I can plan around it.
While we were waiting to be put in a pool and voir dire'd, we could read, play with our cellphones or laptops (I made a note to bring one in) or even use a few computers with internet access that were conveniently hooked up in a quiet room.
I hung out until about noon, getting quite a bit of work done via their internet connection. There was a little awkwardness because they used a special browser that seemed to disallow flipping between screens using keyboard shortcuts, but mostly I was almost as productive as I'd have been at home.
Around lunchtime, the announcement came: go home. None of the cases would require a jury (I guess either they settled or picked bench trials.) We were thanked for our service and told we fulfilled our obligation.
I was happy and disappointed at the same time. Some day I really do want to sit on a jury, both so I can do my part and also just for the experience. However, this must wait and meanwhile I have plenty of other things to do ... such as not gloating at Complaining Man!

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