Saturday, August 30, 2014

Juror #?? // August 2014

So I received this in the mail at the very beginning of June...
It said there would be a possibility of me serving on a jury sometime between June 1 and Sept 1.  I filled out all the info and really just didn't think a lot about it. We had two vacation times during the summer and that was really all they would have to avoid... The ENTIRE summer passed and then I was working from home one afternoon and the phone rang. I didn't recognize the number and if I wasn't working from home, I may have just let it go to voicemail....but I didn't. I answered.

Washington County: "Mrs. Hill?"
Me: "Yes, this is she."
WC: "Um, yes. This is Bailiff XYZ and we are looking to have you come on as a prospective juror on August 27th"  Yes, August TWENTY SEVENTH.. There were 3 days left in the group I was on...
Me: "Ummm, ok. Umm" I was frantically looking at my schedule figuring out how to move 4 meetings (including a 4 hour one) that just happened to fall on the TWENTY SEVENTH!
WC: "Umm, ma'am. You realize there are very few legit excuses for getting out of jury duty"
Me: "Oh my goodness. No. No, that isn't what.. I mean, I work. I know, everybody works. I mean, I have meetings. Good gravy. I wasn't trying to get out of anything. Just tell me where I need to be"

Good grief.

 8 am, this is my view. Yep, 36 years old and I have never done this. I set my out of office and off I went.
Annnnnd can I say. This may have been one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Absolutely NOTHING to do with the case... but the people. Wow, Washington County, we have some good ones.

The case was sad and eventually (I heard from a friend of mine) was settled out of court. They tossed me probably because of my opinion about the hospital at hand but I really don't know. They don't tell you why you got the boot.. just that you did.

So back to the menagerie of people in this place..

Wait, let me back up. Let me tell you what I thought was going to happen. I guess I have watched WAY too much courtroom drama TV and I had my own opinion of what I was walking into. I thought it would be me and some judge or lawyer asking me a few questions and then they would either give me the thumbs up or kick me to the curb.

NOPE. Not even close.

First off, rewind a few paragraphs back to the picture of the courthouse. Yes, a courthouse. Who would not think you would have to walk through a metal detector?? The old man in front of me, that is who. He had to take off everything...the keys, the change, the watch, the belt, the etc, the etc... And then there was the lady after him. What in creation was in her purse?!? I was long gone by the time she managed to gather her life back together and into her purse. Planning was not part of their  morning.  I was then so blessed to enjoy a VERY awkward elevator ride with this guy who was completely redressing and a precious little old lady (who I later learned was 88 years old) who asked his profession.... Awkward!

Then we get upstairs and there was a HUGE amount of people. Again, not what they show on Law & Order. They then asked what judge you were assigned to, glad I was listening.. several had no clue.  Next they hearded us into the jury room. At first there were 30ish of us. The odds were not really on my side with those numbers.

We waited and waited and waited... Then an entire new group of people came into the room. We were easily at 80+ and elbow to elbow. It was HOT and getting awkward.

The judge then spoke to us all stating the over all details of the case and that it could be anywhere from a 5-10 day trial. Oh goody.

The Judge then asked some basic questions:
      Have you served on a jury in the last 90 days.... at least 10 people raised their hands. WHAT?!?! The judge asked a few about their time and several of them were on one not but a month prior and severed a solid 20 hour day ... they went home at 3am. WOWZA.  He had them sit back down.
      Can everyone speak and understand English? I kid you not. AND before he said this he pretexted with "Maybe one day I won't have to ask this in my courtroom" Again, awkward was the word of the day.
      Does anyone have a medical condition that would keep them from serving? There were several stories... "I am on some meds for a mental condition but I could forgo them if needed" Umm, no. Not a good plan, sir.   "I currently have 6 kidney stones I am working to pass so sitting for 8 hours is going to be painful" This was the only person who was dismissed immediately, poor fella.
As the day progressed the lawyers started to speak their parts.. Now this is where it WAS totally Law & Order.... The defense, solid black suits, combed tight hair and stern looks. I thought at one point he was going to start banging his fist on the podium.  The prosecutor,  tan/light colored suit, tan skin, bright white smile and very happy demeanor. He was also VERY nice to us prospective jurors.. "Would you like some water?" Wow.

And then there was an amazing dude.. we will call him Maximus because I will forever remember his name, it is almost as good.  He answered some up front questions... we all learned he worked as a bouncer at a local establishment and was concerned about working nights and being on the jury. Legit but that didn't get him kicked.  And then... I am pretty sure he nodded off. The Judge referred to him by his full name "Mr. Maximus? Are you ok?"  MM: "Umm, yeah. I think I just need some tequila in my coffee" That happened.  A little later the judge asked some more general questions. Such as "In a sutiation where you have a business or person of authoirty who could be at fault, do you lean towards the establishment or the possible victim"  MM:" Always the man. Always. They make the rules and until you know, The Man. I guess that is just probably because I deal with scrawny pricks all day" Yep, that happened. 

And then there was this mom. She was a wreck. Physically she was squirming all around, messing with her hair, breathing all weird, rubbing her hands on her legs, etc. I was pretty sure she was either nervous as hell or on some highly illegal drugs.  Every open window for her to be kicked out, she tried to jumped out. Even to the point that her stories didn't add up. when she didn't get kicked at the very beginning, she tried to raise her hand saying she was a previous juror... Sorry lady, I am paying attention and no, you didn't raise your hand the first time. Then she melted. Poor lady. She was just a mess talking about everything from medication to her kids to her job to her childcare... hot mess.

Then, after SEVERAL, SEVERAL hours, it was time to dismiss. All of the above, out. In certain order but so fun to watch. The bouncer actually told the Judge he would take a shot for him. The judge laughed, thank goodness. Then the guy who openly admitted he was "life long" friends with the defense's head lawyer. A guy who was VERY quick to share that he hated the hospital, doctors and all the crew. He proceeded to tell stories of his friends who had issues at said hospital... I was shocked that they didn't pull him and make him shhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuttttttt it. The sweet little 88 year-old lady who referenced a strip club in the elevator was eventually dismissed although she did say that she really wanted to serve and had nothing better to do but how she would likely side with victim's family because she felt sorry for them.  There was a random lady that had 3 sets of twins.. I am not sure how that came up but obviously the Judge felt sorry for her and dismissed her...

It took forever but eventually I was dismissed. By the time it happened, I was a little sad. I went in not really wanting to do it. You know "Oh mercy, jury duty  *&#(@*!!!" You have all done it. But by the time it was time for dismissal, I kinda wanted to stay. It was SO different than what I had in my mind and now I was intrigued. I found out later that the jurors only came back for another half day and then it was settled. 

Did I mention the air was out in the courtroom and it was August?!?!? Did I mention that everyone was on their phones the entire time?!?!?  Did I mention there was TONS of talking and cracking jokes?!?! Twilight Zone, y'all!!

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