Monday, April 5, 2010

Civic responsibility

In case you were curious, I have located the creepiest restroom facility in Boston: the ladies room on the second floor of the Suffolk County Courthouse. It's dark and narrow and you might get shivved on your way to wash your hands.

What was I doing at the Suffolk County Courthouse this morning, you ask? It has nothing to do with my recent penchant for stealing. No, for the first time, I was reporting for JURY DUTY!

Now, most people dread jury duty, but me? I was a little excited. I was summoned a few times when I lived in New York, but because I switched apartments so frequently, I never actually had to serve (every time you switch counties/districts, you're in a different jury selection pool). And the one time I actually still lived in the apartment where the summons was sent, my boss basically demanded that I postpone because apparently, she thought she needed more than the justice system on the week in question.

I think it's weird to want jury duty, so of course, I've been feigning irritation and cracking jokes about what I could do/wear to ensure I wouldn't get selected. Like showing up wearing this:

Nothing says unstable like a seasonally inappropriate Halloween costume.

Secretly, though, I've been looking forward to today ever since I got my summons. So what happened?

For starters, I got up at the ass-crack of dawn, otherwise known as 6:30 a.m. I wanted to give myself an hour to get to the courthouse, where I was due at 8:00 a.m. This was unnecessary since people continued to roll into the courthouse well past 9:00 a.m. Around 9:30, a court officer made a short announcement and then put on a video explaining how jury selection works. This video was made before I was born, I am pretty sure. A white-haired judge thanked us for our service and assured us not to take it personally if we were not picked for a jury. The difference between civil and criminal cases was explained. Some basic details about courtroom proceedings were mentioned, though come over, we all watch Law and Order, we don't need to be told what a "verdict" is.

The video made no mention of jury sequestering, which is another strange fantasy of mine. I've always thought it would be kind of glamorous/exciting/surreal to have to be cut off from the rest of the world. Though I've always wondered: is all T.V. prohibited or just news? I doubt America's Next Top Model would really affect my impartiality.

Anyway, the video ends and the court officer tells us we can take a "break" (a break from what? Sitting?) but we have to be back at 9:50. He emphasizes the importance of coming back on time.

Jump forward to 9:50 -- nothing happens. 10:30 -- no sign of court officer. Good thing we were all so punctual. Finally, at 11:15, some folks are called out of the room, maybe 1/4 of the total people in the room. At 11:45, we are told to go on another "break," until 12:05.

12:05 comes and goes.

Finally, at 12:50, the court officer says that all the other cases on the docket have been settled out of court and we can all go home.

Well, I'm a little underwhelmed. On the bright side, I don't have to show up at 8:00 a.m. again for another 3 years. But it might have been kind of exciting to be "impaneled." Oh well. I fulfilled my civic duty by showing up. And I got some good reading done. And my presence apparently intimidated some defendants into pleading out and saving taxpayers' money. Justice was served...I think.

1 comment:

Jaelithe said...

I have always wanted to be picked for a jury, too. Does this have something to do with being a writer? It seems like a jury duty stint would, if nothing else, yield loads of interesting writing material.

But I've also moved a lot, and I've never been summoned.