Yesterday was an interesting experience for me. Today I go back for more fun because it is a murder trial so jury selection is taking a long time.
Surely there has to be a better way to run things. We had to be there by 8am. I'm a rule follower, so if an official paper says 8, I'm there by 7:45. Well, it was a suggested time and things got started around 8:30. I brought some papers to grade, but those were finished by the time things got started. Lots of talking and a short video on the purpose of Jury Duty. Over 100 people sitting around waiting, and waiting and waiting. Then, filling out paperwork on why you didn't think you should be there.
Most people sat quietly and filled out the paperwork. When they announced it would be a 3 week trial, about half the people in the room took the 'hardship' paperwork. The lady read off the list of reasons the judge would excuse. Chemotherapy, dementia, mental illness or caring for someone either older or younger who can't care for themselves were all excuses they said the judge would listen to. I listened carefully to see if chronic migraine was something that might exclude me. Because I go to work every day, it didn't seem like I really had an excuse.
At 10am they told all of us who didn't file the hardship paperwork to go to lunch and come back in 3 hours. Wow, for a teacher to have a 3 hour lunch, I almost didn't know what to do with myself!
I delivered quilts to Nurse Family Partnership and went to the bathroom :)
I got back a bit early and sat and listened to all the people who went before the judge to try and get out of their duty. They all had different stories and they were all angry the judge didn't excuse them. As a teacher, I hear kids complain all the time. But, hearing those kids who are now adults still complaining they don't get their way was both funny and sad.
Maybe I just think differently than most people. I appreciate all the sacrifices our service men and women give up on a daily basis so that I don't have to worry when I go to sleep. I know that my freedoms come at a cost to someone. I also understand that if we all give up a little bit, everyone benefits.
I try to teach that to my students as well. Many of them have parents in the military so they understand first hand sacrifice.
We finally got into the courtroom around 2:30pm. I'm so glad I got there early. They called 18 people to be first in the box. One guy did everything he could to get out of that box as quick as he could. It was really sad. He said his wife had a doctor appointment in Southern California he didn't know about. He said he had 5 kids and would be prejudiced against the defendant. He said he had 2 daughters so that would make him prejudiced. Finally, the judge had enough and said he knew the guy was full of BS and was disgusted with his excuses. He chewed him out for about 5 minutes and told him that he hoped he realized that his freedoms weren't free and that he gets to walk around this country because others are making sacrifices every day. He let the guy off and the guy walked out with a big smile on his face. I couldn't even look at him as he walked past me practically skipping out of the courtroom.
Quite a few of the potential jurors took the process seriously and the questioning was pretty intense. Once we got in the courtroom, things went pretty quickly and they let us go at 4:30pm. But, I thought about all the time in the morning and how much we could have accomplished if only I could have brought sewing machines, fabric and my Accuquilt Studio.
100 people trapped in a room with nothing to do. So much potential and they were so bored. The biggest obstacle to my plan is there are no scissors allowed in the courtroom. No knitting needles either. I was thinking of bring my crochet today, but I'm not sure the guards can tell the difference between knitting and crochet. One year I got in trouble for 'knitting' during the STAR tests when I was actually crocheting. I better not try it just in case they can't tell the difference and they take it from me.
Today we don't have to go back until 9:45am. The judge has drug court early this morning so we get a late start. Hopefully they finish picking jurors today.
Still praying that I'm used today. While I don't particularly want to be picked for the jury and have to give up 3 weeks of work, I'm happy to do my civic duty. I'm happy to be a teacher and not a lawyer or judge and have to deal with this on a daily basis.
I only had a mild migraine yesterday. Not having to make 4763 decisions probably helped :)