Adventures in Jury Duty

Friday, June 13, 2014

So, it finally happened.

After 12 years in the pool, I was a summoned juror.

Annoyed was my general reaction simply because of the inconvenience.  I would have to cancel my patients at a moment’s notice.  Potentially scramble to find childcare.  Tyler is still traveling for work… {Remember that time I thought he would be home after the Primary? Hahaha}

If it weren’t for these inconveniences, I doubt I’d mind. Because, really I was intrigued.  I have never been in a court room and was interested to see the whole thing in action.

In Alexandria, you’re on call for a week {or two} and have to call the day prior, everyday, to see if you are needed.  My luck was to fall on Memorial Day week, so Monday was already scrapped.  Four more days to call in.

Tuesday…no jury trials scheduled.  Perfect.

Wednesday….no jury trials scheduled.  Even better.

Thursday…no jury trials scheduled.  Don’t have to worry about missing work.

Friday…Jurors from groups 2201-2207 must report to the courthouse no later than 8:30 am, dress business casual.  Crap.  I was number 2207…so close to being dismissed!  Why was I not 2208?? Whyyeee?

So I scramble to find childcare— enter my awesome neighbor who gladly offered to take her.  After wracking my brain to remember what exactly “business casual” is {because skinny jeans and fancy Target sandals suffice at my office, but I’m thinking the fair city of Alexandria thinks otherwise} I laid out a favorite pair of palazzo pants and a light sweater—a decision I would come to regret.

I also threw my open-ended waiting period essentials into my purse: an apple, coffee mug, and a copy of “Unbroken.”

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Despite my night before preparations, I scrambled the next morning, as usual, getting Charlotte and I dressed and out the door.  After her dropping her off, I drove to Old Town and parked my car at…8:28. 

My jury summons made it abundantly clear I was to be there by 8:30.  A vision in my head of a mean old lady yelling at me for being late tells me to hurry up.  I am really close to the courthouse, so I don’t full-on run as to not look ridiculous, but do a little half-run…as to only look half-ridiculous.  Traffic is clear and no one is around, so I trot across King Street because who has time for crosswalks?  I’m late!!!

It’s at this moment in time I regret all of my life decisions because my heel snags on the leg of my pants, sending me hurdling through the air.  I land flat on my face in the middle of King Street and slide across the pavement.  A shoe went flying off somewhere, everything fell out of my purse.

It was awesome.

image_4 (2){The scene of the crime…taken at a later time, before PTSD set in}

And by awesome, I mean it really hurt.  My only thought was, “Get out of the bleeping street!!”  I scooped up all of my stuff and scrambled to the sidewalk, quickly re-assembled myself, and reassured the two men who saw it {that’s what I’m telling my ego—it was only two}, that I was okay.

Even though I seriously wanted to cry and was really hurting.  How I didn’t tear any of my clothes is a little jury duty miracle I will never be able to explain.

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I hobbled my way up the steps and through security, and was one of the last three people to check in.  And then I sat in a dead quiet room of about fifty people and felt every joint in my body throb.  I was convinced I could feel blood dripping down various limbs, but I think Emily Post wrote something about not hiking up your pant leg to check for open wounds in a room full of strangers, so I abstained.

Meanwhile, Man in His Sixties takes a phone call and speaks at full volume for five minutes, explaining to his employee that there is no need to come in to work today.  Flower Skirt next to me is NOT cool with this and makes it clear through a series of loud coughs.

There is also a ton of whisper talking happening behind me between two girls who are clearly good friends and all I can think is, “Really?  Some people get jury duty on their day off, while single momming it?  And other people get called with their BFF?”

I feel so persecuted.

Now, I should say I was very surprised overall at the normalcy of the jury room populace.  You never know what a random selection of city citizens will yield…I was expecting a metro car at midnight and got the waiting room at the dentist.  A little disappointing.

So, while we waited and waited, the guy in charge, Goatee Crop Top Jury Room Leader Man, was very nice and was doing his best to keep us entertained, making A LOT of don’t-shoot-the-messenger jokes.  We also had to watch a video…an actual VHS in a VCR set atop a boxed TV, that was strapped to a wheeled cart, and we all partied like it was 1999.  The video was relatively up to date and walked us through the selection process, explaining what we should expect from our court room experience.  My favorite part was when the robotic narrator reassured us that we should not let our feelings hurt if we weren’t picked for the jury.

Not a problem lady.  I’d been wracking my brain all morning as to what personal traits I could emphasize to make me a less desirable juror…. Tyler’s involvement in national politics?  Not that rare around here.  I could over-inflate the importance of my job?  Treating medically fragile children.  My Republicanism?  Everybody hates Republicans.  Maybe I could just show the judge my likely bleeding elbow?  Why can’t there just be a felon in my family? 

After about thirty minutes, we got a 45 minute break.  I’d been dreaming about a toddler-less trip to Starbucks all week, so that was on the list.  I also needed to move my car because I was in a 2-hour spot and had no idea how long I’d be in the courthouse.  I also needed to put my first-aid skillz to use and survey whatever damage I’d done to myself… A trip to CVS might be in order.

So I moved my car to a garage, and as I’m getting out, the garage attendant walks over and says, “Why you park your car like that?”

{Dumb face.}

“Why you park your car like that?”

{Dumb face, still.}

He takes five minutes to tell me why I should have backed into the spot, instead of pulling forward into it.

“So, do you want me to move it?”

“Nah.”  And walks away.

Next was Starbucks.  Despite my full mug from home and the apple in my purse, I grabbed a hazelnut latte and a donut…because I have no self-control.

No time for CVS by this time, so I safely, in large, careful steps walk back to the courthouse. I assess my wounds in the bathroom and am seriously disappointed by how visibly mild they are—they do not feed my story of hurdling through the air at all.  Whatever.  It hurts, you don’t have to believe me.

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image_10 (2)This was pre-swelling, thankyouverymuch.

Ever the time pusher, I am back in my seat at 9:44.  I will never learn my lesson.image

Here’s where the second best part of the jury duty happens.  I knew you were paid a fee for being a juror, but I just assumed I’d get a $12 check in the mail in a few weeks.  Nope, Goatee Crop Top Jury Room Leader Man walked in with a fat stack of tens and told us all to line up.  So, we all got in line and one by one, were dealt three crisp ten dollar bills.  Yay government!

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That was about the peak of the day’s excitement.  Just as we were all on the edge of our seats to see would actually get called, Goatee Crop Top Jury Room Leader Man had the list of randomly selected names in hand…and we were all excused.

Whatever the criminal case was, they resolved it while we were all sitting there waiting.  Someone either plead guilty or they dropped charges.

And that was it!

I was relieved to go home but it was a little anti-climactic.  Was my name on the list??  Would I have been sent home anyway??  What does a courtroom actually look like??

Oh well.  I was home by 10:30 to scoop up Charlotte, prop up my hurts-more-than-it-looks knee, and ponder what I’d learned from my two hours of jury duty.

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1} Don’t be late to jury duty. 

2} Don’t jay-run in palazzo pants.

3} Don’t automatically try to get out of jury duty—you might not even have to serve and still get credit for having been called.  I got $30, only lost a few hours of my time, and won’t be called again for at least three years.  That’s about as good an outcome as I could hope for!

Doing my civic duty…that’s what I do.

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