Friday, May 23

Jury Duty: Your Civic Duty, Or Cruel & Unusual Punishment?

So, I had jury duty yesterday. I was actually looking a little forward to it. A whole morning (at least) all to myself. I picked up a giant coffee from Dunkin and 3 magazines (People, US Weekly & Star of course). For some reason I felt like I had to tell the woman at the checkout that I was going to jury duty. I mean, the magazines were ALL I was buying, and so of course I felt I had to explain why. Yeah . . . like she cared. Anyhoo, all was well. Then I saw the sign on the door saying "No Cell Phones." I actually had to leave it in the car. It was quite unnerving to be totally out of touch, I mean, what if there was an emergency? I was completely UNREACHABLE. Apparently the courts of law do not care. The courthouse was really nice, and quite small, there were only 17 people there for jury duty. I should have known this was a bad sign. The chances of getting placed for an actual trial go up with such a small amount of people. So, 3 hours after I got there we were led in for the case. Let me back up by saying that the room where we were kept in was OK, but kind of small. And we were NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE. Not for anything. I felt a little bit like a hostage. There were bathrooms in this small room (I'll say again a really small room, where when you peed all 16 strangers out in the quiet room could hear you . . freaked me out.) And It is totally odd to me to sit in such a small area with that many people with NO ONE TALKING. So quiet, but that was good for my trashy magazine reading. It was freezing in there (of course I wore my sandals to show off my sexy pedicure, bad idea). I swear by the end of the day my toes were blue! So, we were told that the judge would call us up in about 15 minutes and told that if you had to go to the bathroom to do it now. Seriously, I now know what it is like to be a child. Sit here, go there, pee now, and wait. And wait, and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. Of course, that 15 minutes actually took 1 1/2 hours.

By 11:45 I was one of the chosen 7 sitting on the actual jury for a D.U.I. trial. Around this time I was starting to wonder about food. There was nothing in the first room, you couldn't even buy a muffin or donut from a little cart. Now it was almost noon and they were just starting a trial. I was seriously starting to feel light headed. I had brought a granola bar, but I couldn't eat it now. I was part of a jury for christ's sakes. Everyone was looking at us. I couldn't start nibbling away on a snack. So, I sat. And I listened. I tried to pay attention, but it was hard. My mind tends to wander to other things. Especially when they kept telling us the same facts over and over and over. After a while I knew so much about that night back in October that I could have been in the freakin' car with them. So my inner monologue begins. Like who were those young guys in the seats. Were they friends of the baby-faced D.U.I. defendant, or did they like work there? Why did they both have the exact same weird haircut with it swooping up in the front? Was it perpetual hat head? Did the Prosecutor for the Commonwealth know that he was sweating, even though it was 33 degrees in there. And the defense attorney. He talked a mile a minute, fast fast fast, and I could tell he was greasy. You just could. He kept ending each question with this "blah blah blah blah blah, correct? Blah blah blah blah blah, correct? correct? correct? correct?" And the cop that was the witness. Did I know him from somewhere? Or is it just that cops in general around here look alike. Did he go to Westfield with me? It is a huge criminal justice school and he looked about my age. Oh, he's wearing a wedding ring. Wonder if he has kids . . . . arghgh, pay attention and listen to the facts, you are going to have to make a decision in a while here. Plus people kept coming in with papers, passing things to the judge. And the whole time the poor little boy, I mean defendant, just sat there looking straight ahead, and kind of like he might pee his pants.

Finally a little before 2 they wrapped it up, right about the time I started to get a faint whiff of pizza. Was I imagining it, like a mirage in a desert? No, they brought us into yet another small room and there was pizza waiting for us. Thank the lord because I that point I didn't care whether he was guilty or not guilty, I just had to eat. So, the pizza stunk, but at least it was food. We came to our decision pretty quickly (guilty, sorry poor kid, but he took a breathalyzer and you really can't argue with hard evidence like a .14). Then we had to wait yet again for the lawyers and judge to get back from lunch. Probably lunch on the outside, with real food, and beer, and weather. We waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. 6 people, in a room, no windows, NO WAY OUT. Literally, were were told we COULD NOT LEAVE, even to walk outside to get fresh air and then come right back in. No one really talking. This just made me keep talking. About stupid things, anything. Finally I resorted to pulling out the Star magazine so that we could at least discuss pertinent world events, like if Angelina Jolie is really going to have twins, and what is actually in Suri's baby bottle? Toxic formula? The sweat of L. Ron Hubbard? And how do those mommy's get their bodies back after baby?

Finally were were led back into the courtroom to give our verdict. I am so glad that the little boy, I mean defendant, didn't cry or anything. That would have sucked.


Erin said...

Absolutely loved the Jury Duty blog! SO funny, and totally true, it's torture! It seems everyone I know is being called to duty, I feel like I'm next. Anyway, I love reading what's in your head. Keep up the great posts!

Pamela said...

I hadn't been called until last year, and I was strangely looking forward to it, until I got there. Your experience, with exception of the no food cart, sounds much nicer than mine. We were crammed in 2 rooms of an old court (100+ people in each), with no AC, and broken TVs. Turned me off from Jury Duty, and hopefully I will somehow move back into the unknown/uncalled citizen pool. Regardless, I feel your pain, and I loved reading about your courtroom thoughts!!