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.