Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jury Duty

So I had jury duty yesterday. I expected a very long boring day with a bunch of annoying strangers who were angry and scary. I was neutral about going to jury duty, it’s an obligation I was successful at missing for the first 4 years of my live back in CT b/c I moved around so much, but, it caught up to me. So I was called, I was not dismissed the night before, the weather didn’t close the courts, and off I went to jury duty. I arrived to a line outside the courthouse, went through the metal detectors, in an elevator and into a large room. The room had lots of seats, a big tv and two women who managed the whole event. As people’s names were called, and after the introductions we were informed there is a criminal and a civil case to be assigned to. There were less than 100 people in the room and after a bunch of names were called, me about 20 other people were seated in the room. We waited and waited, then were lead into a courtroom (which was a sign we were the jury pool for the criminal case).

We walked in, the attorneys and ‘accused’ were standing as a formal gesture of respect, while we walked in and sat. We were introduced to the judge, attorneys and the accused. We were told what the crime the accused was being accused of, names of potential witnesses were named a timeline was set and anyone who knew any of the people or couldn’t adhere to the timeline had to raise their hand to be potentially excused. About 8 people were excused. In CT, there are only 6 jurors and 3 alternates. So we were then excused and called back in to the courtroom one-at-a-time to answer questions while sitting in the box. You know the box where the witnesses sit, next to the judge, with the microphone while the typist records all the ums and uhhs you say? Yeah, that box.

So after lunch I was called into another waiting room right outside the courtroom. I was called in and amazingly I was nervous. Very nervous. I sat down at the microphone, the judge instructed me to answer the questions as I wish, if I didn’t want to answer any questions I was not obligated to. This made me wonder what the heck they were going to ask. So they asked me to tell them a little about myself. My background, education, hobbies, etc. I was surprised by this, why do they want me to tell them that. So I stumbled around it, said I grew up in ct, moved away and back 5 years ago, talked about my job and then sort of fizzled out. Then asked if they wanted to know my hobbies? I felt foolish but wasn’t sure what they wanted to know. So they said yes and I told them some of my hobbies. The question and answer session took about 10-15 minutes. It went from legal questions to very personal question. Questions about society, interracial marriage, discrimination, some were yes and no questions, some open ended and some were multiple choice. One asked if I thought a police officer’s testimony had more weight than a non-police officers testimony. I found this whole thing fascinating. They wanted to know my thoughts about being called for jury duty and how I would feel if I were chosen to be on this jury. It was crazy. And all recorded. At one point they asked a rather interesting question. Since I had taken oath to tell the truth I thought about it for a good time. It was weird, the typist must had caught up, everyone was waiting for my answer and it didn’t seem the right time to think out loud just to fill space. It was interesting.

It also made me realize how much of a big deal it was to be chosen for a jury. You’re holding the fate of another person in your hands. Heavy stuff. I was dismissed, I guess they didn’t like my hobbies. And feel relieved a bit.

2 comments:

  1. NEAT! I sat in a big room and read all day. I never got called to answer any questions. Your day sounds much more exciting.

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  2. Wow. I was dismissed the night before. I'm glad, I would've been way too nervous.

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