Monday, November 14, 2011

Jury Duty

My husband has jury duty this week. From all the moaning he’s doing, you would think he’s about to ship out to Afghanistan for an indefinite tour of duty. Keep in mind, hubby has never had jury duty before. I’ve had it twice, including the week my son was going off to freshman year of college in another state. So you can imagine how sympathetic I am.

As I may have mentioned before, hubby, like me, is retired. The times I had jury duty, I was employed and had to cancel clients. Since after the first day of jury duty you may or may not have to return and if you do return you may or may not have to stay all day, it was hard to know what to tell my employer about when to expect me and who to cancel. Employers, at least mine, also seem to have a funny attitude toward jury duty, one that can be summed up as “You mean you’re too stupid to know how to get out of this?” Of course, they don’t exactly put it that way.

Hubby, on the other hand, is down to waxing the furniture as a way to fill his time, so you think he’d be jumping for joy at the idea of having something to do, but he’s not. For one thing, they won’t let him bring coffee or snacks into the jury room, although there is a little cafeteria in the courthouse. He did bring a book.

In neither of my two stints at jury duty was I selected for a jury. The first time, I got as far as being interviewed as a potential juror in a tort case, but was rejected by the  plaintiff’s attorney. The second time, I had actually been called to jury duty a few weeks earlier, but my boss complained that week was bad for me to be out and asked if could get it moved to another time. The problem is, when you do that, you have to show up at the time they reschedule, which was, as I mentioned above, the week my son was leaving for college. Thanks, boss. Fortunately, my son had to leave on Thursday and all juries needed for the week were filled by people who were not me by Wednesday evening, so I got to go embarrass him on his first day on campus after all.

That’s the down side of jury duty. In all likelihood, you are going to sit around in a big room with no coffee being excruciatingly bored while attorneys work out plea bargains. After the first day, you might get told to call the next day and see if you have to come back, or you might be dismissed early in the day or early in the week, but you can also be kept waiting around all day. The powers that be can’t tell you that the attorneys are trying to work out a plea bargain because if the attempt fails and a jury is called, that knowledge might prejudice the jury against the defendant.

On the other hand, you could be like my former co-worker who got selected as a juror in a murder case and be sequestered for two weeks. From what I am able to tell browsing the newspaper, there are no big cases coming up in court this week, so I think hubby is safe.

I know if I were ever charged with a crime, I’d want a jury that was serious and motivated to do a good job and not wishing they could be with their son at college or worried about being fired. Now that I’m retired, I could be that juror. 

I just don’t like the part about no coffee.

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