Ah jury duty!
While I can’t speak for the rest of the country, or even the rest of the state for that matter, here in New York City a summons to jury duty seems to fall into 3 major camps:
- Yay! I get out of work!
- Damn! This shit again!
Then there is the subset cross twixt the Yays and teh Whatevers in which I fall. I do not relish jury duty, with glee, nor do I find it abhorrent or am apathetic to it. I get the whole “what if it were happening to me” aspect of it and that it’s my civic duty. If I think myself to have the wherewithal to decide whether a candidate is worthy to be president surely I have the same to decide whether the average Joe is innocent or guilty. I merely hope if sellected for a case, I can serve with as little interruption to my life as possible, but I serve. Believe me when I tell you most NYCers report for jury duty with less joy than going to the gallows.
After herding us cattle, I mean joining us prospective jurors together in to one large hall, the court clerk begins to read the rules and expectations of serving on jury duty. Clearly she s reading from a script so memorized that the sheets of paper in front of her is just a mere formality – it’s akin to watching a flight attendant who has done the Y M C A of flight safety nth times too many. Moreso, the clerk delivers her instructions with a monotone that would make a Ben Stein monologue seem lively and engaging by comparison.
Luckily, being allowed to use our phones as long as we were quiet I gratefully distracted myself from the acute boredom by snarking on facebook. Commentary from yesterday:
“Anyone who has a letter from their boss, explaining why you cannot serve jury jury, please bring the letter to the front so we can stamp it “Denied” to return to to your boss. You will not be excused.”
The “Aw fuck!” disappointed expressions around me are hilarious.
There was a woman a few seats from me who nicely took the tri-folded paper in her hand, put it in her purse, then not so nicely swore under her breath. Whoops. I can’t swear on it, but I am reasonaby sure I saw her get it stamped at the front desk later. Sometimes it bes liket dat – as the old folks say.
For the first couple of hours a max of ten names were called. For a bunch of peope who clearly did not wish to b there, I was surprised by the general chatter around me from those who names were yet to be called. It became repetetaive and annoying quickly. There were four or five people conversing around me being really whiny about the whole thing. I actually said to a guy trying to draw me in to the madness “Look. Very few of you actually want to be here. But you are here. You can’t get out of it. Constantly bitching isn’t going to get you out any sooner. Grow the hell up and shut the hell up.”
I don’t think they are going to let me sit with them during lunch. I’m truly heartbroken over it.Speakng of lunch – another facebook comment:
The alacrity with which people hauled-ass out the juror waiting room for lunch is only going to be beat in humor by the comparative lethargy of these same folks upon reentry when the break is over. I could be grossly wrong in my assessment, but I don’t think my fellow jurors-in-waiting want to be here.
Suffice to say my facebook friends were amused.
Now we were warned from onset that if our name are not called, we may be realsed as early as 3pm, however, we may indeed be there until 5pm. When I looked uo at the clock at the front of the hall and saw 3:20pm, I prepared myself for the long haul. Minutes later Lady Ben Stein cle at the front desk announced “Ladies and gentlemen your service for today is concluded. Please return at 9:30am tomorrow…”.
Going by the speed with which many bee-lined for the doors. What was heard was:
“RELEASE THE HOUNDS!!!!”
As nearly all headed out as though the buildng were on fire. I say nearly beause some of us remained seated clearly observing this mad dash with bemusement. Then there was the cutie-pie who had not move at all because he was lightly snoring, about to drool asleep. His complete look of bewilderment as woke him to a near empty hall was priceless.
Today is day two – Let the games begin…
I have only ever been called to jury duty once. Of course, Pottsville is no New York so the group was not large and it was only for one day. I am not a good sitter and waiter so I admit that I got a bit antsy. Although I was not picked to sit on a case I do believe it is an experience every person should experience. It does make for great people watching.
We are so lucky in Illinois to have “one day or one case” jury duty. It is so boring unless you get called,but that rarely happens. Best of luck with the rest of your time. Thanks for the amusing look at the waiting room!
While serving jury duty can be onerous, I also agree that it’s critical for everyone to do their part and participate in the process. Having said that, sometimes it seems like there must be a better way– I always feel so bad for people who serve as jurors on highly publicized lengthy cases that totally disrupt their lives. I’ve only been called to jury duty once. When I lived in Baltimore, MD., I was selected to serve on a jury in a murder trial. It was quite an experience. I was thankful that the defendant had pled guilty so we did not have to determine guilt, but instead the degree of the charge (manslaughter, 1st degree murder, etc.). The trial did not last too long but jury sessions were quite contentious. I wish I had journaled during that time as I only remember bits and pieces of the experience, including, unfortunately, horrifying photographs. Good luck with the rest of your time. At least you can pass the time observing and writing about your fellow cattle!
I was called for two days in July and spent both days in the jury room. A few people were chosen the first day, and the rest of us were released at 11:30. The second day started with a lot of people called for jury selection and most of us felt we’d be called. And the, at 11:00 they released us. I was on of the happy hounds racing out the door!