I received my jury summons and actually got selected for a trial - all for the first time about a month ago. When I received the jury summons note in the mail, I thought, "No! No! No! Why ME!?!?" ... My family and friends told me all the tricks they had used, had heard about to get out of it. Tell them you don't speak English! Tell them you have a sick child. Be super opinioned and tell them you hate the Jews. Tell them you're broke and you can't afford it. Say you believe in the death penalty. ... Ai ya... time to share with you what I learned.
The thing about getting summoned for jury duty is that there really is no short cut. Tell your employer, family, friends that you will be showing up at that courthouse for at least two days in a row (830-430PM). You get a long ass lunch break in between - it's really not that bad. Think of it as a way to explore all those downtown lunch options you never had time to before. Definitely bring a book, a magazine, music to listen to. Bring a beverage and some snacks. Expect to hang out at the very least for those two days.
I got lucky. Monday morning. I was in the very first group of jurors selected to go through the "voir dire" or the jury DE-selection process for a trial. Okay - so I could have tried all of the tricks to get out of that trial - but you know what? I get out of that trial and I'm thrown back into that room with all the other potential jurors. I then get recycled and may have to do another "voir dire" deselection process for a different trial - get thrown out of that jury pool and there you go again. The trial I was sitting in the voir dire process for and actually inside the jury box from minute one was a civil trial. The civial trial, the lawyers said, would most likely be a very short one. It was. Trial started Monday afternoon - we had the verdict by Wednesday afternoon (I was voted the jury foreman).
I miss my fellow jurors who sat with me in that jury box for 2 days - we played hangman together, talked about food, went to a couple art galleries during lunch, ate at Salumi's together... What I learned was that those who do show up when they are summoned for jury selection, those that make it through the voir dire process, ... those that go in and willingly perform their civic duty - what you get is a really really really good group of people with hearts of gold. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like I wanted to hug everyone there - I'm saying in general, you had a group of 13 jurors who were aware and cared (check out my old post on that). A senior architect, a builder/developer of large buildings, a retired university researcher, an event planner for nonprofits, an art museum volunteer, an amazing employee** of the Casey Foundation, a woman I knew only by name who works for KPMG ... Really A.W.E.S.O.M.E. group of people.
** the amazing employee - here's a very nice looking man with a very kind face. Quiet. Soft spoken. Gentle aura and spirit. Heard his story when we all went to lunch together at Salumi's. All of us floored by his story. A person who grew up as a child in the foster care system - vowed to devote his life to helping other foster kids. Adopted 5 foster children of his own - all older in age and with special needs. That is the kind of person that tells me, there's hope in the world for all of us.
Jury duty is an honor. I wanted to share this with you because I for one, think it is an honor to serve our country as it is one that I call home and has offered me so much. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to meet 12 other good hearted people from my community - that I normally do not get the chance to meet. And really, if you are lucky to have a salaried job - and can afford to take some time off, ... go in with an open mind. I miss those fellor jurors from my first experience with jury duty. I do. I wish I had stuck my hand and neck out and asked if any one wanted to keep in touch. Really good people - and as crazy and nonsensical as our government system is sometimes, I have renewed faith in our country and system. Be proud.