I had the dubious honor of receiving a summons to report for jury duty. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the judicial system, and I would have loved to get to be on a jury back in my old state. In fact, I was never called for jury duty in Missouri for the fifty plus voting years I lived there. I move here and in less than three years, they find me. It’s just that here I don’t know where anything is and how to get there. I have gotten to be a real hermit, more than happy to stay home and order most everything online. Yeah, I know, not the healthiest attitude.
On Sunday before my first day of jury duty, we took a road trip checking out the best route for me to get to the Superior Courthouse. My summons also warned me to be early because parking was limited and only a few free parking spaces are available for the jury pool. We scoured the area and found the allotted free parking lot and the closer lot that charges fifteen dollars a day. Of course, Mitch said, that for ease of finding a parking space I should just park in the closer lot. I added up fifteen dollars times five days and decided that I was too cheap for that.
I was to report Monday morning at eight am, and based on our road trip, the trip should take about a half hour, nothing is fast around here. So to be on the safe side, get there by eight and still get a free parking spot, I left the house at six thirty in the morning. Shaking your head now right? So was I, but I was so nervous about driving in morning rush hour traffic, getting there on time and finding free parking, I left fifteen minutes earlier than I had planned. My stomach was in a knot and my head was hammering away.
I found my free parking lot, along with other early birds who were also afraid of not getting a parking space. I parked the car, put my jury pass in the window and headed down the hill to the courthouse. I was one of the first to get there and walked up to the door. The door was locked and the lettering on the door said the doors would not open to the potential jury pool until seven thirty, twenty minutes to stand there in the cold with my nose running and coughing from the dregs of my cold. Woohoo. A line formed behind me with others. As soon as I coughed or blew my nose, everyone took a step back. Perfect, now everyone thinks I have leprosy, oh well, maybe I’ll get excused.
When the doors finally opened a man came out and addressed the group telling us what we needed to get in the door and what we couldn’t take in the building. After going through the metal detectors and getting scanned, we headed off to the jury assembly room. There were between two hundred and three hundred other potential jurors called in to maybe be assigned to a court. Lucky me, I was selected to go with the first group, a total of fifty in our group. Another group had fifty-five and a third group had sixty potential jurors in it. We were ushered into a courtroom to watch a video about what to expect and what was expected of us.
After the video, we were ushered back out into the hallway to wait. There wasn’t enough seating so we stood, for days. We couldn’t leave, had to stay on the first floor, couldn’t sit in any of the courtrooms, smokers had to go outside to smoke and come back through security. Makes me glad I don’t smoke. Afternoon came, and we were told to return our color coded badge and go home. We were to call or check the website after five pm for instructions on our group for Tuesday. Tuesday was a go to work day for our group, do not go to court, we were directed to check in again that evening for Wednesday. Wednesday was also another go to work day and not go to court day for our group. This was totally wreaking havoc on my psyche, not being able to plan my week.
Wednesday evening came and the words of doom on the website greeted me. Be at the courthouse by eight-thirty on Thursday morning. Eight-thirty meant I had to leave the house by six forty-five in order to get one of few coveted free parking places. Eight-thirty meant I had to stand in the cold for twenty minutes waiting for the doors to open so I could go through the metal detector. Eight-thirty meant that after I got through the screening process I would wait for another half hour in the hall outside of the jury assembly room until someone showed up and to unlock the door to the jury room. And lastly, eight-thirty meant my stomach would be in a knot until I was either attached to a trial or released, whichever came first.
Thursday morning once settled in the jury assembly room, waiting for everyone to get checked in I did what I love to do, people watch. One thing I can say about the jury selection process, is that all different demographics were called in. Some I wondered if they had mirrors in their homes and even bothered to look before walking out the door. Others came that were clearly put out about the whole ordeal, you could tell that they were much too important to be bothered by due process. One man sat in the room with his back turned to the room and talked on his cell phone the entire time, during our videos and even when our coordinator was explaining how the jury pool selections would be made. She finally had to ask him to leave the room until his conversation was done. Another man walked into the room, right passed our coordinator who kept addressing him, wandered around then turned and walked out of the room, ignoring her repeated attempts to talk to him.
Again, I was selected for the first group. We were told that we had enough time to go to the bathroom before we would be escorted up to the courtroom for a trial. Oh yay, that meant if I was selected then next week or longer I would be ensconced in a trial. We were told that we could take our belongings with us, but no food or gum was allowed in the courtroom. No coffee cups, cans or cold drink glasses, the only thing we were allowed to take with us was a clear bottle of water. After going to the bathroom, I stopped at the way overpriced coffee bar and bought a very expensive bottle of water.
This time though, there were seats available in the hallway, so I was able to sit and wait to be led to court. After sitting in the hall for another half hour, our group was called back in the jury assembly room and told that the attorneys for our trial had asked for a continuance, so we were to turn in our badges and go home. I raised my hand and asked if that meant we were done-done and did not have to come back. Jury duty here is for one week or one trial, whichever comes first and there is no jury on Fridays. Fridays are for motions. Our coordinator repeated my question to the room and asked the room what they wanted to do. Of course everyone said done and she concurred. We turned in our badges and almost all sprinted toward the door, just incase someone said, no wait.
Walking back to the car I noticed others walking so fast, it might have been a timed race, there even some that could barely walk in the courthouse damn near running toward the parking lot. I wanted to tell them all that they should thank me for their good fortune. If I hadn’t paid for the overpriced bottle of water, we would be stuck in a trial. Karma.