Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jury Duty

As you might imagine, I had a hard time going to sleep Monday night, both because it was earlier than I normally go to sleep and because of the excitement earlier in the evening. Eventually, though, I did, and a short five hours later, my alarm went off and I opened my eyes to darkness. Yes, just in case you were wondering, it's still quite dark at 5:45 in the morning. No need to get up and check for yourself--I've sacrificed myself so you don't have to.

I managed to get dressed and do all the other things I do in the morning and get out the door around 7:15. A stop at Starbucks helped.

Can you tell from the photo that it's really not a whole lot past dawn? Sheesh!

I was lucky enough to find a parking place in the juror lot across the street from the courthouse--that lot filled up at 7:35 a.m. that day, I'm told, so I must have been one of the last to find a space. Here's a photo of the courthouse from the parking lot.

I promised I'd try to take photos to document my day, but they had signs posted all around the place prohibiting photography. Darn! See that bottom row of windows? That's the second floor--that's where the jury assembly room is. Fascinating stuff, huh?

First, though, before I could get there, I had to pass through security. And that was a problem.

My tote that was filled with goodies to keep me occupied passed with flying colors. My purse, though . . . . Well, the police officer manning the scanner put it through twice and then asked, "Do you have a pocket knife in your purse?" "No," I replied, and thought for a minute. "At least I don't THINK I do, but there's probably stuff in there I haven't seen in 20 years." "Well," said the officer, "I think you do. Please start taking things out."

So there I stood, by the security station, pulling handfuls of stuff out of my purse and piling it on the conveyor belt while other people reached past me for their bags and streamed on by. I'm guessing the officer was simply amusing himself by not giving me anything to put the "stuff" in, but after awhile, he took pity on me and handed me a bowl. And into the bowl went broken pens, paper clips, petrified partial sticks of unwrapped chewing gum, grocery lists from 1993, unidentifiable pills (probably allergy pills, but I'm not really sure), empty breath mint tins, AA batteries . . . . Well, it goes on and on. No pocket knife though. And every now and then, the officer would run my purse back through the scanner before telling me to take more stuff out. Finally he must have decided I wasn't a threat to the court clerks, judges, prisoners waiting to stand trial, and the 2,582 other prospective jurors crowding every nook and cranney of the second floor of the courthouse, so he let me go.

Upstairs, there was a long, long line waiting to check in. I waited and shuffled forward, waited and shuffled forward. Near the front of the line was a bin of clip on badge holders and pens, so I gathered up a few souveniers of the day and moved on by to the check in counter where I was scanned and handed forms to fill out. Back out in the lobby, I found myself a seat, pulled a paper bag out of my Tote O'Joy and spent the first half hour of jury duty cleaning out my purse. That accomplished, I filled out the forms, and listened to the juror orientation speech over the speaker system. We were advised the court had three trials starting that morning and would be calling the first group of jurors in just a moment. No time to delve into my tote full of diversions at that point, so I made my way to the ladies' room to dispose of the unwanted and troublesome contents of my purse.

Settled again back in the lobby, I heard over the speaker that they were about to call the first group. And then I knew. I don't know HOW I knew, but deep down in the pit of my stomach, I knew my name would be called in that first group. The two hours I'd spent the night before putting together a tote full of goodies to wile away the long tedious hours of waiting would be for naught. Sure enough, my name was called in that first panel, along with 75 other names.

Herded like cattle, we all made our way up to the third floor of the courthouse where we stood and waited outside the courtroom. And waited. And waited. Finally the doors opened, and after the bailiff told us what to expect, we filed in and took our seats. Roll was called, and a missing prospective juror was located elsewhere in the courthouse, while the rest of us stood back up and were administered the oath.

The judge came in and introduced the attorneys and the defendant, and we learned the case was a criminal trial in which the defendant was charged with murder. Trial was expected to last three to four weeks and would begin on April 6th. We were all given a rather bulky packet of questions to fill out and drop in a box before we left the courthouse. We were out of there by 11 a.m., so I went into work for the rest of the day.

So, that's where I am as far as jury duty is concerned. I go back for more fun in a couple weeks. I seriously doubt I'll be selected to serve on the jury, particularly in light of the drive-by shooting the night before. (Some of the questions in the form we filled out elicited that type of information.) In the meantime, I'll look on the bright side: At least my purse is clean.


Louise said...

What a day! Thanks for making me laugh! I can relate to the purse contents... I am unfortunately not one to clean out my purse on a regular basis. But you know, if you had not been prepared with handwork you would have been stuck there all day waiting with nothing to work on.

ratherbquilting said...

Isn't it weird how different areas do their jury duty in such different ways? I think around here, they give you a phone number to call to see if you need to report on a given day. After you report, you go through the selection process. If you are not selected, you have to keep calling the number until your timespan is up. Makes it hard to plan anything...

You were a good girl to go in to work afterwards! Think I might have played hookey.

Eileen said...

Thanks for the discription of yourpre jury duty. Ours works like the Rather be quilting glas. Had it twice in my day. Sat on one which was sort of cut and dried. DWI.

Vicky said...

I don't understand how they expect people who are working to serve for weeks on a jury. I mean, I understand the system, but that is a long time. With all the unemployed now, you'd think they would chose from those rolls.

debijeanm said...

I had EXACTLY the same experience last year (minus the purse search) and my adventure lasted three days. I was the last alternate dismissed. I've already received my summons for this year (both last and this were for my spring break so I ask for postponements)and I'm sending out fervent requests to the fates that I have a boring day of waiting. I'm not even going to tempt them by packing The Tote.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, makes me break out in a cold sweat to read about your jury duty experience. I hope I luck out this next time like I did the last time I got it, they have us call in every night and I got dismissed without even having to step foot into the courthouse. Fingers crossed. I *hate* jury duty.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Hang in there Kim.

Judy said...

I'm like Vicky, I understand the whole civic duty stuff, but why not let the people who don't have job or want to do it serve? Why have the only breadwinner of a family go make $20 a day sitting for weeks to determine someones fate. Heck after that I'd be hard pressed to not feel really angry with the prosecutor for making me sit there and take it out on them!
Nope they don't ever want to pick me.But have a clean purse. With my smart mouth I'd have said something like "well no knife,what exactly did you think was a pocketknife? yep, I'd be in jail for sure!

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Sheesh! the lengths people go to for a clean purse!

I do enjoy your always makes me smile! You should write a book with all these stories.

Sinta said...

Your life definately is entertaining Kim. You know how to stir up trouble... making that guy have doubts & search your bag! I don't think I would have gone back to work. I would have declared it a full day off! (For the pain & suffering)

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

You are killing me by shootings, jury duty...and a bag emptying situation!! You should buy a lotto ticket, your luck has to change!Tracey

Anonymous said...

I had finally time to read almost everything in your blog and it gave me courage. Now I am "ready" to try machine quilting the bed cover for my son (see? I am not a small project person). I have two questions about your quilting - what do you use for the backs of your quilts? Do you buy extra fabric for it? And what kind of the threads do you use for your bobbins?
Have a nice weekend

Nan said...

The time I had jury duty was quite a bit different than yours. We went through the orientation, and were given numbers, and when our numbers were called, we all went into a courtroom, and were asked if there were reasons why we couldn't serve on a jury for 2-1/2 weeks. My "favorite" answer was given by this rather large man in the back of the room. He said he had to pee all the time, and wouldn't be able to sit for hours on a jury. Everyone around me worked hard not to laugh, but his answer worked, and they let him go. Just a thought for you......LOL!
Anyway, they then looked us all over, and said "you and you and you, etc.". It was an interesting experience, but once in a lifetime is enough for me.