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JURY DUTY – Two words that will bring you to your knees and make a grown person cry. Welcome back to mom’s finale of serving Jury Duty. You see a lot of television shows showing courtrooms, judges, the inside of a courtroom and lots of action. Not so much in jury duty. You see, you have to pay the price to get to the action. Last time five years ago when mom served, she actually made it to the courtroom and to the Jury panel. It was a great feeling. There everyone was – the defendant, the plaintiff, the courtroom and the judge. But when mom was seated, it’s not going to go for you if the judge looks at you and says, “Hey June, how’s it going?” and you two know each other. Of course, mom didn’t get picked that time but mom had big hopes this time.
So day 2 – Tuesday, January 13. Everyone was told to report at 9AM and to make provisions to get through security and be in a seat in the Jury room on time. This date, security must have been on happy pills because everyone was so nice. Mom didn’t even have to remove her shoes and she breezed through check point – no line – it was a sign of a good day… she hoped.
Around 10AM, the trumpet played and everyone quieted down to look at the monitors. Sigh – mom was not picked again. She was starting to think she was a LOSER. She went back to reading her book. This date, mom got to finish that book because no one else got called the entire day. All of the jurors were dismissed around 4:30PM and told to report back the next day at 9AM sharp.
Day 3 – Wednesday, January 14. Mom just knew this was going to be the day. She felt it in her bones. Also security was almost as worse today than it was the first day. The courthouse was packed – a good sign you could say from a Juror’s point of view 🙂 Mom got at the courthouse at 8:15AM and by 9:00AM she was just sitting in her chair in the Juror room.
No sooner had her butt touched the chair, the trumpet went off. People quieted and gathered to observe the monitors. That’s when it happened. Mom saw her name. She jumped up and screamed BINGO. Shakes piggy head. Wrong place mom but it did get a chuckle from the room. She ran to the door and got in line. Finally, some action. YES this could be the day. Mom was excited. Finally she was going to see the inside of a courtroom, hopefully not know the judge and all would be great in the world.
Everyone lined up in the hall and counted down to make sure we were all together. There was 42 of us chosen ones. We were then told to go to the group elevators and go to the fourth floor. If the elevator should stop in between floors, don’t let anyone on because we were Jury. Sounded like a plan huh? Off to the elevators. Mom gets on one with 15 of her closest friends. The elevator lurches up and then down quickly and mom sees it now – they are all going to die in the elevator! But, they made it finally to the fourth floor. Sigh – that sounds like a winner just making it alive.
They stand in front of the courtroom and wait for the others to arrive. Here’s another new thing that they have set up at the courthouse. In front of each courtroom, there is a television monitor that shows the cases, defendants, attorneys, etc. Mom just scanned the list. Much to her surprise, she recognized most of the defendant names through her work. Snorts – NOT a good sign.
Finally everyone makes it to the hallway and the clerk ushers us to a waiting courtroom that is empty. There they sat for almost two hours in pending status. The judge finally came in and said that the defendant plead guilty once we arrived so we were not needed. Darn – that close! So we were advised to go back downstairs to the waiting room. Could you feel it? That close but yet again so far away. So mom treks back downstairs via the stairs this time to the waiting room.
Several hours pass and the trumpet goes off again. Heads swing to the side to look at the monitors. BINGO – mom gets called again. The excitement goes off within and she just knows it’s going to happen. She runs to the hallway and gets in line for the countdown. Same instructions as before, get on the elevators and go to the fourth floor, no picking up hitchhikers in between floors, yada, yada, yada. Mom gets in a different elevator this time, makes it to the fourth floor and goes in front of the courtroom.
As soon as everyone gets to the floor, we are allowed in to set in the pews. Uh-oh! Something is not right. Mom knows from history that we don’t do this. That’s when we are told that the defendant plead on our way upstairs.
What the hell! WHY!?!? So again we are dismissed to go back downstairs. This time humbled with our heads hung low we go back to the Juror room. Upon our dismissal this date, we are told to report back the next day at 9AM. Shucks.
Thursday, January 15, 2015. Mom arrives at the courthouse and there is hardly no one in line. Now the entire week she has been going through security with the exact same things in her purse every day. This day, she gets stopped again! They ask to look into her purse so mom opens it wide. There are two things that need to be check out. One is long – mom’s umbrella. The other – dad’s restaurant flash light. Really? They start to act like she can’t bring it in and that’s when mom might have lost it just a bit. Okay, she’s been stuck in this room ALL week long and now you are questioning something that she lets them know real fast that has been in her bag all.week.long. Mom caught herself and took a breath. She told me that sometimes when people have jobs that act like they rule that universe so you have to show them extra care. So mom did what she does best – she plastered on that 24 karat beautiful southern smile and charmed them. That’s my mom!
In the juror room, they were advised there is one judge that has a case on the books. One case that might be a potential reason for jurors. At 11AM, no trumpet is tooted but the lady from the courts goes to the speaker. She thanks us for our service, dismisses us and passes out our checks. Oh checks. I didn’t mention checks? Jury service is paid $25.00 a day in our county. Mom made $100.00 for waiting and reading and waiting and reading all week 🙂
Is Jury Duty boring? For the most part yes. You get a lot of down time. You get to read a lot. These days, they even have televisions set up in the room where you can watch certain shows. There are snack machines and soda machines that you can buy from. You can bring your lunch. You can bring your laptops and other electronics. You can text and email your friends and family. There is a LOT of waiting. I mean a LOT of waiting.
So you think it’s a waste of time? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Serving as a juror is an important and very viable civic duty. This week that mom got called, there were 8 judges that had calendars overfilled with cases. By jurors being downstairs and waiting to be called if a defendant wanted a jury trial, this got a lot of the cases cleared off the books. Once a defendant realized that we were waiting, most of them plead out. There was a few lucky ones from our group that actually got called and chosen to serve on a jury.
Does mom want to go again – heck YES! She dreams of one day actually serving all the way in a courtroom 🙂
Those two words bring out the dreaded, “Oh no!” from a lot of people here in the United States. They get the dreaded summons in the mail with a date to report to the courthouse for their civic duty usually at least a month in advance. Mom got hers in December 2014. But you see mom is not typical. She wants to serve on a Jury. You know like the one pictured – the bonus spot in the courtroom. The story is though that she never gets picked. Maybe it’s the questions you have to answer on the summons and send back in to the court system. The questions range from have you ever been convicted of a crime to what you do/where you work for a living. Then the summons tells you to report at 8:00AM on a certain date – mom’s was Monday, January 12, 2015. And hey, don’t be late.
So here rolls Monday, January 12, 2015 – It’ s been about five years since mom got called to Jury Duty. She said she was a little happy and surprised with some new changes. First up , the dreaded entry into the courthouse. OMP (oh my pig)! Mommy was HOT the first day she got home from Jury Duty. She said that going through security into the courthouse was worse than Ft. Knox or going through airline security! Mom got to the courthouse at 7:30AM.
The line was out the front door of the building and down the sidewalk! She waited for over 30 minutes and finally got to the check point. She had to remove her shoes, cell phone, belt and put everything in a bucket with her purse to go through the scanner. Well don’t you know the person behind the scanner saw something in her purse that had to be checked out. Mom had a nail file that was not sharp by any means, was not metal, but could be construed as a weapon. Really? Killed by being filed to death? She was given two choices. 1 – voluntarily hand it over and she would NOT get it back or 2 – she could take it to her car and then get back into the long line again. When I tell you mommy was HOT and steaming, that is an understatement. She gave it up because she was already running late. From standing in line, it was now 8:05AM. She finally redressed herself, calmed her blood pressure down and went to the Juror room. (Note: This was not “just” a nail file. It was a special nail file that she got from the beach – all pink and pretty.) And Hey – if you are going to have these rules, why don’t you include in the summons the things you can’t bring to the courthouse. Just a suggestion – snorts.
Once in the Juror room, she met her new 100 plus friends that she would be spending the week with. There she learned about some new rules of Jury Duty from one of the eight judges here in the county. These days, they hardly ever excuse anyone from Jury Duty here in our county. There are exceptions but now if they excuse you, they automatically set you up in the system for another date before you leave. They also advised that you were to wear your stickers stating you were a Juror, not to speak to anyone in the courtrooms or building and basically stay in this one room. This one room by standards was a huge room but you put in 100 plus people and you can’t breathe. It was advised this was a busy week and there were 8 judges with FULL calendars they were trying to clear.
Another new thing to the system is that when the judges were ready for a jury pool, a trumpet would play and then monitors around the room would roll a list of names. If you were on the list, then you would go to the front door and get in line to be brought upstairs to the courtroom. Sounds like fun huh? Then everyone was sworn in for the civic duty and it was time to let the fun begin.
So this all on Monday. The trumpet went off four separate times that day. And can you believe that mom was not on that list one.single.time? But don’t worry about mom. She came prepared. She had her cell phone and she had her book that she was reading. In fact, she read three books this week but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Day 1 of Jury Duty finally finished when everyone was dismissed at 4:45PM and advised to report back the next day by 9:00AM. So my friends – report back tomorrow for mom’s next installment of serving as a Juror.