You know how whenever you get called for Jury Duty, all of your friends say, “Ha! Hope you don’t get picked for a murder trial!”
I don’t really think that’s so funny anymore.
Today, I have a story for you.
Back in January, I got a jury summons to report at the end of February.
The night before I had to report, I called, thinking I’d never have to go, as my number was 280, but lo and behold, all jurors had to report.
Happy to serve my civic duty, I figured, if nothing else, it would make good fodder for the blog.
So, the morning came and off I went to the Court House.
I have a lifelong aversion to being late, so I was one of the first people there and had my pick of seats. I chose a table so I could spread out a bit and grade the essays I had brought with me.
I got through a good chunk of them, alternately grading and people watching.
Jury Duty is an excellent place to people watch.
Around 9:00 am, the head Jury Duty Lady (yes, I believe that is her official name) called us all to attention and had us watch a video about jury duty.
I think an episode of Law and Order would have sufficed and would have been MUCH more entertaining, but we all sat and dutifully watched.
Then, she told us that there was a full docket of judges and cases that day and that we’d likely all be picked for a jury.
There went my hope of spending the day finishing the essays, catching up on my students blogs and playing Words With Friends, courtesy of the Court House WiFi.
We sat back down and I started to get a little excited.
I imagined things like the cast of CSI testifying to finding this piece of evidence and that piece of evidence and tying it all together.
I envisioned the jury room where we’d debate and throw our hands up in the air in disgust at the one person who wouldn’t go along with the rest of us, and order take-out meals for lunch because we couldn’t be exposed to public chatter about our case.
I was trying to figure out a way to sneakily eat my snack while sitting in the jury box, because when I’m nervous, my blood sugar goes wonky and I was already feeling a little low, and I hadn’t even been picked for a case, yet.
After another half hour or so, the head Jury Duty lady was back and was ready to call the first case of the day.
I was up.
I got in line and about 75 people got in line behind me as their names were called.
I was surprised that they called so many people for one case, but I would later see why it was necessary to go through so many.
They asked if anyone needed the elevator and those three people walked ahead of the rest of us and got in the elevator.
The rest of us walked up three flights of stairs in relative silence.
Whenever Monkey in the Middle is getting in trouble, he smiles.
He’s not being sassy or fresh. It’s a nervous reaction.
He gets it from me.
As we walked up the stairs, I could feel a smile spreading across my face and a giggle building in my chest. I kept my head down and worked very hard to keep it inside because it was incredibly inappropriate. It’s always been an issue for me.
I suppressed it.
The clerk led us into a courtroom and told us to file into the five or so rows of seats that were facing the front of the courtroom. In my head, I called them “the press seats” because on television, it’s where the press and the visitors sit to watch the drama unfold.
As we walked in, there were two attorneys at each table turned and looking at us, two clerks, and two people who sat off to the side.
And the defendant.
I couldn’t help but wonder what he had done, but I figured I’d find out soon enough.
We sat (and some of us stood, as there weren’t enough seats for everyone) and waited.
In a few minutes, the door opened, the clerk said “All Rise” and we stood as the judge entered the courtroom.
He told us all to have a seat and then started to speak.
After thanking us for coming, he explained that we were the pool of jurors for a trial that was going to begin in two weeks and would last for approximately six weeks.
Immediately, I started to tense.
Then he began to list the charges against the defendant.
Tampering With Witnesses.
(Come back on Monday for Part 2 of “Juror Number Me”)