Day in the life of a Juror

So I’ve been selected for Jury Duty. It’s my first time ever, so I decided I’d go ahead and log what it’s like.

6:30a – Hit snooze

6:45a – Snoozey-time

7:00a – Realize I need to be driving in a half hour, so do the morning routine.

7:34a – Leave

7:55a – Arrive at giant Justice Center building, go through security the same as if I was getting on a plane, minus removing shoes. (But I did have to remove belt)

7:59a – Check in, and get a nice “JUROR” sticker to proudly display.

8:25a – Listen to lady introduce jury duty, and go through the different kids of court systems that we’d possibly be serving on; namely civil or county. She lost me going back and forth between the two, but the gist is one’s more traffic-y and the other is more assault-type offenses. Typing it out, I’ll go with county as the former, and civil, the latter.

At a glance, I’d say there’s 100 – 125 people here, but upon counting of the chairs and people in them, there’s probably 250 people.

They say there’s four trials going on today, so 12 jurors a piece means 48 individuals will be chosen.

8:45a – They start calling names for people to come and fill out a 5-page questionnaire. They call off probably twice as many people as there will be jurors. One trial group gets a neon-green questionnaire, another gets white, and then one doesn’t get a questionnaire at all. My name is called, and I go up to receive a neon-green questionnaire.

I fill out the questions, which happen to start off with the exact same questions as the jury duty summons (name, sex, marital status, number of children, etc.). Half-way through the questions, they start getting trial-specific: [person x] has been accused of [y]. Have you heard any news relating to this trial, or know anything about the accused? Then it goes on to questions which try to bring out any bias that you have (have you or has anyone close to you been affected by [y]). I know I could answer some of them falsely and get out of duty as soon as they read it; but I feel like this is one of the cornerstones of our Country, so I choose to be honest and impartial.

I won’t state specifics regarding the case, mostly b/c I can’t remember the name of the person. I will say it’s regarding child abuse, and though I have 5 children of my own, I feel that I can remain impartial and hear the facts of the case to make a just decision.

9:15a – A judge appears at the front of the room, and begins talking about why Jury Duty’s important and how there’s a very small number of countries in our World where our type of law is practiced. I find it interesting that it’s not common.

I have taken for granted, all growing up, that we have a system in place which provides for our peers to judge the facts of the case; that our trial system isn’t chosen by one judge, or even a panel of judges for that matter. It’s amazing to look around this large room, and see all sorts of people from all walks of life. It does seem to be a truly random selection.

9:35a – The white-papers are given a 10 minute break.

9:40a – The green-papers are given a 15 minute break. I go to the cafeteria across the courtyard, and call Ann.

I’m quasi-conflicted about wanting to serve. I don’t want to be away from my family, and work; and this is pretty boring. But I do want to be able serve, and do my part to ensure justice for those accused.

10:40a – The greenies are called up to the courtroom. Out of curiosity, I asked how many potential jurors there were….55 was the answer.

Once we arrived in the courtroom, the first 13 jurors were called to sit in “the box”. The rest of us were asked to sit on the benches (very hard, very wooden). The judge addressed the entire courtroom, and explained the rules of jury selection and duty. We all took an oath to follow the rules, and to be impartial.

He proceeded to ask questions to the courtroom regarding residency within the county, any relationship to the accused, or any financial interests related to the case.

Anecdote: One gentleman lived well outside the county boundaries, yet the clerks told him he lived inside them. He raised his hand, and told the judge where he lived, and the judge and prosecutor google’d it, and determined that he was definitely outside the county. He was excused. Fifteen minutes later, he came back into the courtroom, and said that the Jury Commissioner says that it was indeed within the county. The judge said “I’m the judge, they’re a clerk. I say that you live outside the county, and if they have a problem with that, they can see me directly. You are exused.”

It was pretty funny to see.

So because of the very private nature of this case, the jurors will be questioned individually as opposed to in front of the entire group. This method will take the “majority of the day” said the judge. He told ~15 of the jurors to stay, and allowed the rest of us recess till 1:30p. So I’m out here enjoying the sun and breeze.

I think I’ll head off to lunch.

1:15p – Back from lunch, here to wait for the next 15 mins till we’re lead back up to the courtroom.

2:00p – Brought up to courtroom to finish the jury selection.

3:00p – Chosen to sit in the jury box. Very happy about that, b/c that means I won’t be sitting on those hard, wooden benches any more. I’ll either be chosen, or released. :)

I was chosen to be on the jury. This should be interesting, more on the trial later.