I’ve only been called to jury duty one time in my life and couldn’t go because I was attending college in another county. So yes, I got a little thrill when the summons arrived a month ago. Mystery writers are weird that way.
Still, it’s a bad time to hijack any chunk of my schedule. I could have postponed, but there isn’t really another time this year that would have been better. Besides, my friend Patricia mentioned it would be a real fluke if I was selected. First off, there would be a large crowd from which to choose. Secondly, I write about crime, so even if I did end up in the initial random drawing it was unlikely they’d want me to stick around in the long run.
Wrongo. First off, I was in the random group selected from the thirty people who showed up. The attorneys nixed half of us after extensive questioning. Not me, though. I got to participate in two days of trial goodness – a surprisingly good experience.
I’m going to post more about the particulars of the trial on Inkspot, the Midnight Ink author blog, on April 18th. That’s “O” day in the A-Z Challenge, and I’ll add a link to that post along with my regular post here. Right now, though, I want to share a few memorable bits and pieces unrelated to the actual case.
- When we checked in at the County Clerk’s office, no one asked to see IDs. We had to go through security, but I could have been anyone as long as I had the jury summons in my hand.
- Everyone who went through security set off the buzzer. The officer went over most people with a wand. He just shrugged at me, pointed at my shoes, and went on to the next person. My heels must have contained metal of some kind?
- The courtroom had such good acoustics that whispered sidebar discussions between the judge and attorneys could be heard by everyone. They successfully dealt with the problem by turning on a white noise machine every time the attorneys approached the bench.
- The majority of potential jurors showed up in jeans or shorts. I didn’t expect black tie, mind you, but that did seem a bit casual.
- We were a six-person jury. I hadn’t realized (or even thought about) the fact that not all juries are made up of twelve people. There are also three-person juries. The charge in this case was a criminal misdemeanor, which apparently determined the number of jurors.
- When we were all done the judge came in and gave us each a Certificate of Appreciation for completing jury duty. Nice, if a tad juvenile. It says, “… trial by jury is more than an instrument of justice and more than one wheel of the constitution: It is the lamp that shows that freedom lives …”
I was happy to serve as a juror, and would gladly do it again. Have you ever served on a jury? If not, would you want to? If so, what did you think of it?