Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jury Duty in Misery

I have been on call for jury duty this week. What that means is I have to call the courthouse every day after 4:00 pm to see if I'm needed for possible jury selection. Today, my number was up.

The day got off to a grand start as the parking garage was full, so I had to go search out a spot on the street at a meter, hoping that I wouldn't get a ticket (which I didn't, but five dollars is five dollars). Eventually I made it to my destination.

I was given a number and asked to sit in a room of 35 or so other randomly selected jurors. Meanwhile, a deputy read us some rules and showed a terrible video about the history of courthouse and its procedures. (I never realized the columns that once held up the original courthouse mirror those columns on MU's campus. No one has ever told me that before even though it's so vital to my job as a juror.)

After sitting around and loading up on bad coffee, we were ushered into the courtroom - a brand new courtroom - for the next step in jury selection. We were informed that the defendant was fighting a moving violation on a revoked license. It was no murder or rape trial, but I guess it was important enough to the defendant that we all be there today.

The judge made a few bad jokes and asked if everyone could be fair in placing judgment on the defendant. Then the prosecutor asked if anyone had had bad experiences with police. A couple of people felt it necessary to share all of their convictions while another man decided to wait in order to share privately. Then the defense did a little of the same.

The public defender also did something a little different, she asked to hear from each of the potential jurors who had not spoken yet. I was one of those jurors. My big secret to tell was that I socialized and shared a nanny with a public defender. That was my ticket home. My friend once told me that a juror who socializes with public defenders are always the first to get booted from a jury by the prosecution.

So, my day of jury duty ended with no drama or excitement. I've already called in to see if I'm to show up tomorrow, but I am not needed. My hope is that there is nothing on Friday. Who wants to be sequestered with a bunch of strangers on a Friday?

I mixed feelings about jury duty. On one hand, I feel it is a responsibility of citizens to serve time in a jury. On the other hand, I had way more important things to do than to sit around for three hours, hopped up on bad coffee just to be sent home. The defendant certainly deserved a fair trial, but was his little moving violation really worthy of the time and resources spent today?

Either way, I may have to go back on Friday. Otherwise, there will be no jury duty in Boone County for another year.

I was hoping to fill this space with a review of the new Animal Collective album,
Merriweather Post Pavilion, but Insound informed me that the album is on back order. That's good news for Animal Collective and bad news for me.

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