With the exception of Gloria from modern family, I have never seen anyone happy about getting a jury duty notice in the mail.
I can understand that. When I received my first summons, I was in between my junior and senior years in college and had just excepted a part-time job at a local cookwares store (which turned out to be pretty soul sucking itself, but that’s a different story). It was inconvenient, but what can you do? If you get the letter you have to call in. If you call in and they tell you to come in, you have to come in. I don’t think anyone can fire you for having jury duty, but it certainly didn’t make a good first impression.
Getting downtown was its own adventure. Back then I was driving my grandmother’s old car, and at one point during this whole debacle the gas line came loose, leaked gas all over the road, and I had to turn back towards home within five minutes of leaving. Considering the fact that my car was hemorrhaging gas I probably should’ve just hung tight and waited for a ride… but I made it to within a three minutes walk from my house before the tank ran dry and everything petered out. When the power steering goes away, it’s a very dramatic difference.
Anyway, the summons. I don’t think I had to go in right away. But eventually, the semi inevitable thing happened and I dragged myself downtown, into an overly priced parking garage, through some metal detectors, and into a dingy waiting room. Not everyone had to go beyond the waiting room, but my cohort did. We migrated to a courtroom, which at least had windows. And then it was a very long wait while we went alphabetically through the list of everyone in the room.
The sad thing is I almost got away. They had twelve jurors and two alternates, and the only people left in the room other than that were me and a little old lady.
Let me make something very clear before I go on: it was a civil case. Civil cases mostly settle. Civil cases usually settle pretty soon after the jury has been selected, because that’s about when both sides realize that the other really is serious about this. They already had a complete jury, and two alternates for a trial that probably wasn’t even going to finish was enough.
… And then they chose me as a third alternate.
I was an afterthought. I didn’t actually get to have an opinion, but I had to sit through everything anyway — all the courthouse shenanigans they could throw at us given the dead boring nature of the case, and all the waiting room puzzles we could find during our breaks in the dreary waiting room. They tell you not to take things out of the courthouse, but I passed most of the time doing little pin sketches and smuggled them out in my pockets or purse. Ha, the things they tell you. And hey, one of the jurors dropped out and I did actually become second alternate. Yipee.
The case was, of course, settled. My one remaining annoyance is that the results of the settlement were closed, so all that time I wasted not getting to have an opinion and I didn’t even get to hear the ending.
My next summons for jury duty came a few years later. This occurred during a period of unemployment in which I actually qualified for Unemployment, and this time I had a better car and a shorter drive to a different courthouse. The court room we waited in was slightly less depressing, and it was a criminal case. I have no idea what the charges were because I wasn’t selected, and I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed sitting in on that one, but at least it was more interesting in the time I was there. The selection took two days, which qualified me for getting mileage reimbursement, which was nice, and gave me a nice change of scenery from the house where I was catsitting.
I don’t know when I’ll get a summons again, but I’m not looking forward to it. Experiences shown that jury duty is mildly interesting at best and a half so the rest of the time. But I’d be curious to hear anyone else’s experiences. Have you ever gotten to sit in on a trial that was actually interesting?