I jinxed myself just over a month ago. A friend had received a summons for jury duty and, like so many do, she had made this BIG fuss about how she just had to get out of it. It was an inconvenience, it was tedious, it was a time suck.
I told her about the time I was on a jury for a pretty big case when I lived in Los Angeles. The case lasted just over a week and we deliberated for days. It was exciting and educational. Most of all it made me feel like I was doing my part in the justice system.
Oh I was SO SMUG with this friend. So smug. I used my brilliant argument, “wouldn’t you rather a jury be filled with smart people over just the chumps that couldn’t figure a way to get out of serving?”
Two days later I received a notice for jury duty in the mail.
My summons came with a questionnaire and I answered it thoroughly and truthfully. The notice said that I might get a note after submitting the questionnaire letting me know I was dismissed. It said if I did not get a letter to call in the day before a specific date.
I made plans for help with W JUST IN CASE I was called in. I figured if I made plans I wouldn’t need them, better to be safe…you know, JUST IN CASE.
Of course I was called in to the jury pool.
I woke up early, got W to a sitter, and then I made the big error of my day – I did not expect to still be in court after 3pm so I did not make plans for anyone to watch W in the afternoon.
(yadda, yadda, insert the typical and expected stress that my afternoon ended up becoming…)
Jury duty was odd. The entire time I was there I kept thinking how inefficient things were. (let’s not even talk about the Christmas decorations that were still up) 100% of the people who I talked with in the massive holding room that is the jury pool said that they WANTED to serve on a jury. 100% of those same people also said that the timing was not ok for them. Some had classes that they taught (with no substitutes) or medical procedures booked. One woman even said she had a 2nd honeymoon trip planned and she was on the verge of tears thinking she might have to cancel it.
Like the people I talked to I wanted to serve but I could not possibly serve this week. (my biggest hurdle being that it is the end of the month and I had no money to hire a sitter every day)
Wouldn’t it be nice if jury duty worked better? Instead of just fearing/dreading that a summons will show up you know the date and can plan around it properly? (as opposed to a hypothetical maybe we MIGHT need you date) What if every other year you gave your county three dates that you could serve?
Since childcare was 100% my issue it made me realize how many other parents had probably freaked out about being summoned.
(and in case you were wondering, there was no where in the questionnaire I was sent that allowed you to indicate a childcare hardship)
I was picked to be a part of a panel that could be potential jurors for a criminal case that was going to last a week. Only when we were all gathered before the court could individuals stand up to indicate specific issues. Stand up if you know the defendant or any names on this list of witnesses. Stand up if you know any of the arresting officers. Stand up if you can not serve for ___ length of time. Stand up if you can not be a fair juror to a person of color. (yup.The judge totally asked that. And several people stood up. Which OMG.)
I know that by going and then being dismissed I fulfilled my duty but I am disappointed in the process.