I don't have very many of my own "firsts" anymore. The firsts in my life are now taken up but a cute little curly-haired blonde girl. But, today I had an all-me-for-real new experience... jury duty.
I've never been called for jury duty before and I was actually kind of excited about it. With my background in criminology, I get a little geeked out with all things crime/court related. I got to see a jury selection one time as a class assignment when I was in college, and I think it would be kind of cool to be on a jury. Let me tell you though, after today, I'm not AS excited about it. In fact, a little foreshadowing for you, this MAY become a series of posts on this blog. lol
About a month ago I got letter letting me know that I had been selected for a jury pool for a "special panel" for a single case that could last up to (or more than) 4 weeks. I later learned that this is not the norm... apparently the norm is going in and sitting around for 2 days to see if you get selected for one of several different cases being held that day (?). Nope, not me. Not this one. I was a *little* freaked about the idea of having to be on a jury and away from work for a month, but also, still, a little excited at being able to have the experience.
So, yesterdayI headed over there a little nervous, but mostly curious at the process. Here's the timeline of my day:
8:25 am - Arrive at the court house. Was told to give plenty of time to get through security, and I was supposed to check into the jury room by 9:00.
8:35 am - Through security AND have a hot chocolate from the coffee cart inside.
8:40 am - Check into the jury room, get myself comfortable, eat my muffin and drink my hot chocolate.
9:15 am - Watch jurors still filtering in. Seriously people. You were supposed to be here BY 9:00!
9:30 am - Juror room attendants try to set up video... can't get their laptop to work. I look around at the MANY people in the room and estimate about 200-300 people in attendance... for ONE jury.
9:45 am - Finally get the lap top working, start the court/jury orientation video.
10:00 am - Video over, no one says anything, nothing happens.
10:10 am - Trial judge comes in, introduces herself, identifies the case/charges and talks about the time frame of the trial. Explains that it will start at the beginning of the year, and that a questionnaire will be passed out to all of us to fill out so that the jury selection process can go more quickly. After we are done, we are to take our questions to the front and get our photo taken.
10:15 am - Get my 10-page questionnaire, start working on it. Answer a variety of questions that are going to make me look really bad, but, when you work in social services you can't really get away from answering "yes" to questions like, "Do you know anyone with a substance abuse problem?" or "Have you ever known someone in a gang?". lol
10:30 am - Finish my questions, get in line for the photo.
11:00 am - Continue to wait in line.
11:15 am - One of the juror room attendant comes down the line with a list of our names (in completely random order) to tell us which "group" we're in. We learn that after we get our photos taken we are done for the day and need to come back again at the beginning of January for the ACTUAL jury selection. We come back in groups of 40... there were at least 5 groups. We find our names (again, in completely random order on this sheet of paper), and write down our group number.
11:45 am - I FINALLY make my way to the ONE woman taking photos. As I sit down the trial judge comes back in and they have a conversation about when this woman is going to go to lunch (I was, MAYBE at the 40-50% mark of the people remaining waiting to be photographed). The photographer said that she would go in 15 minutes. I told her that I was REALLY glad that I was on this side of that 15 minutes.
12:00 pm - Leave the jury room and think about all of things that I would change/re-organize if I was in charge of the process. This was a giant waste of my time and energy. I just hope that my second round in a couple of months is more interesting/worthwhile!