January 22, 2007
So, today I got myself out of bed, took my boys to school, and then headed over to the big town of Henderson for jury duty. For some odd reason, Henderson has never felt it was a priority to make parking accessible to anyone who needs to go to the Courthouse, therefore if you arrive AFTER the sun has risen you will have to park at least 1/2 mile away and walk. I got there pretty early and only had to walk 3/10 of a mile, so I was off to a good start. I made my way through the tight security at the front door and walked up the 3 flights of stairs to the 3rd floor, and stood in line. I waited. And waited. And finally it was my turn to enter the courtroom. They took my jury summons, circled a number on the front and referred to me as "juror 203". They then gave me a piece of paper to sign and indicate whether I would be taking the $10 myself or donating it to a charity. One guy behind me said his favorite charity was himself, and I agreed and signed to take the $10 home with me. Once I had the paper filled out they directed me to the seating in the courtroom, "You can sit ANYwhere you like as long as it isn't in the middle." I wanted to reply, "Well then, I guess I can't sit ANYwhere I like, can I?", but I decided sarcasm was probably not best given in this venue. After solving a few Sudoku puzzles and listening to the ladies next to me laugh their heads off about how they would rather be in bed and how their husbands forced them to get up and get dressed so they could make it on time, the judge entered the room. He gave some patriotic speech about how people died so we could have the right to serve on a jury and so we should be proud to be here and hopefully we would find it an interesting process. I did find it interesting, and I will tell you why. After the patriotic speech, the judge informed us that he had good news and bad news. Good news: they would only be picking one jury today (apparently they usually pick 2-3 juries). Bad news: they wouldn't even be able to pick that jury until after lunch. So he said he would "qualify" us this morning. That means that you have to be able to answer "yes" to the 1st 4 questions he asks you and "no" to the last 3. The questions were like "are you a citizen of the U.S.?" "can you read and write English?" "Are you of good moral character?" "Do you live in the county for which you are serving on the jury?" (those were the "yes" questions) "Have you served on a jury for longer than 6 days in the last 6 months?" "Have you been convicted of a crime?" and "are you currently on probabtion?" (those were the "no"questions). He then said that if anyone couldn't answer "yes" to the 1st 4 and "no" to the last 3 they were to move to the middle section of the courtroom. No one moved, so he deemed us all qualified. Oh, but wait......now someone decided that he must not be qualified (maybe he decided he wasn't of good moral character) and he must not have answered the questions yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no.....so he moved to the middle. The judge kind of rolled his eyes and I was thinking that I guess I wouldn't really want someone deciding my fate if they couldn't decide whether or not they were qualified. So, then it was time for all the people who thought they may have exemptions (which by the way are listed on the back of the card and all you have to do is call in to claim it....why would you waste a trip to the courthouse, unless you can't read those instructions...which leads us back to question #2 about being able to read and write English, so you wouldn't have qualified anyway) or people who needed their summons to be deferred. The judge zoomed through those people sending them all home. The middle section was now empty again and we were waiting. The judge explained to us that they would now be calling out names (randomly, of course, because a computer "spits them out"---I was thinking it was kind of like the lotto, you either win or lose, and in this case it is winning if they DON'T call your name!). If your name was called out you were to go sit in the middle section--8 per row and you had to start on the judge's left and go to the judge's right. There were 6 rows to fill. That makes 48 people. The lady who was calling out the names already had the list of names....it isn't like the computer was "spitting them out" while we were sitting there. The names had ALREADY been spit out before we arrived....does anyone see where I am going with this???? Was it just coincidence that none of the people who claimed exemptions were on that list? Maybe. But I am just thinking that they could have only sent a summons to the 48 people they KNEW would be picked and then about 20 or so more people just for good measure in case someone needed to be deferred, and I could have stayed in bed and slept longer!
inscribed by Caci