Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happenings: Jury Duty - Day 3

It's over folks! I'm free at last. Boy, what an anticlimactic experience. Here's how it went down:

9:30 a I arrive to find my fellow prospective jurors holed up in the "lunch room," hiding from the "new kids" who have reported for their first day of jury duty. I feel like a kid who's been held back a year in school. We listen as a guy we've never seen before gives the new kids the same instructions we got on Monday.

10:15 a After a lot of waiting around, the juror administrator finally takes attendance for our little group of 35. There are a couple no shows, people who made it clear (and not always politely) that they couldn't serve on the trial if it went until Friday. Did they get excused? Or did they just decide not to show up? We're finally allowed back in our windowless room.

11:00 a The lawyers seem more efficient today. They still seem to ask some pointless questions, but they're finally done with their questioning of the first 16 jurors. How exciting! They leave the room to confer and pick their favorites. They meet with the judge. The juror administrator comes in and tells five lucky people they've won the lottery (not!). The rest of the 16 are let go.

Questioning resumes for the final three. Not as entertaining as yesterday. When questioning is done, we know who they'll pick - the nice little old lady in the corner, the sweet fashion designer and the amiable girl with the red hair.

12:00 p We're done! But wait, you didn't ask me any questions, I want to say. (Prospective jurors 24-35 didn't even get questioned). I had my spiel all prepared. We didn't even have a chance to share our most personal details, like the others did--where they went to school, what they did for a living, how many kids they had, if they had a boyfriend, liked to drink, ever was a victim of a crime, ever was sued or sued, where they lived and for how long, what they liked to do on weekends...On second thought, it's best I never had the chance. In any case, we were right. They picked the three nice women, rewarding the obstreperous and the rude with an afternoon off.

The women are told to go to lunch and come back at 2 p. The rest of us are dismissed. The juror administrator passes out or proof of service. "Don't lose this," he says. I won't. It feels good to be done...and it's even nicer knowing I don't have to serve again for six years.

P.S. I forgot the most hysterical part. One of the jurors accosts the plaintiff's lawyer as he's trying to leave, "Did you see this article in the Times? Let me read it to you. Fretful or angry jurors are a concern for plaintiffs’ lawyers in civil suits... because the plaintiffs brought the suit and are more likely to be blamed by the jurors for any inconvenience that jury duty caused them. See, you should be careful!" Funny enough, that morning, the Times had published this article on how people are more anxious about jury duty in these hard economic times.

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