On this day, there will be no movie shown. I believe that gadget-toting prospective jurors encouraged an end to that procedure. Fine with me. I begin to read my kindle book, and as the hours drag on I finish five chapters of Steve Jobs biography. Occasionally, I glance around the room and see that nearly two-thirds of the people are either keying on their laptop, stroking their iPad, or operating some other electronic device. (THFWF – thank God for wi-fi). The dozen or so people without e-toys are reading paperback books or newspapers and those with nothing to occupy their minds are either napping or starring into space.
Occasionally, the clerk enters the room and calls jurors from a list of about 50 names. I am not included. Yaaa! The people whose names and numbers were called are instructed to meet the clerk in the hallway outside the lounge and she will take them to the judge’s chamber. This procedure occurs a few more times as the day drags on.
After sitting in the lounge all morning any minor distraction is welcome. Otherwise, the only change of venue comes when I go to the restroom or when we all are released for a one hour lunch break. Then, we return to the lounge to wait, and wait, and wait some more.
While some, perhaps many, Americans willingly embrace jury service, face it, not everyone shares your enthusiasm. During my entire lifetime, I can only recall two people who told me that they didn’t mind jury service. One made no bones about the fact that she felt that jury service was a civic duty and she thought it was odd (or maybe even unpatriotic) that I resent being summoned. I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of people would tell you honestly that they would rather take a daily dose of castor oil for a week, than spend all day sitting in a jury pool. I’ve even known of people who said that when they receive a summons they discard it and never report for jury duty. I don’t know how they get away with that. I dare not do it, because I just know that if I did, I would be the first one caught, fined or subjected to a penalty worse than jury duty.
In an essay titled Jury Duty is Your Civic Obligation Timothy M. Heap wrote, “The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees our right to a trial by jury. For this system to work, we must be active participants in the system.” Heap, I have this to say about that. “To each his own.”
At mid-afternoon on my most recent jury call, those of us who did not get selected for a jury were released. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that it would be another two years before my name would come up again on the jury roll. And I hope that by then a computer malfunction would have permanently deleted me from the system. Of course, the powers that be would just pull my name from the DMV or registered voters’ list and put me right back on the jury roll.
I must say that I made good use of my time while sitting in the jury lounge this go round. When I grew tired of reading, I wrote this post.