Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't Be That Guy

jury 1
Photo credit: Matt Freedman
The other day, I read a blog post about how to get out of jury duty. I expected it to be a joke, but no. It was a list of the excuses the writer's fellow potential jurists used to get out of jury duty. Including the lame pretending to know the defendant.

What really bugged me was that the writer said that she was planning on using one of these lame excuses when she's called up again several years from now. And I get that she's pissed off that she had a case that lasted over a week, and that jury duty pays less than minimum wage (and what the fuck is up with that anyway?). And I get that she'll probably do her civic duty next time too.


The whole thing raised my hackles (which is a great expression that we should use much more often in common conversation). And I want to make it clear that my reaction had nothing to do with this particular person. And had everything to do with the way people in general wail and moan and gnash their teeth when they get called up for jury duty. 

You know the worst part of my last jury duty experience? The assholes who were determined to get out of it. The guy who approached the bench and started pointing at different people in the courtroom, probably claiming to know the attorneys, the defendant, and everyone else named in the case. While 20-30 people sat there waiting for him to finish his little performance. The woman who was clearly suffering from seasonal allergies and wearing a sweatshirt covered in cat hair, which bothered my allergies (she didn't get picked, presumably because she looked so spacy). One woman there was doting on her and feeling so bad for her because she was so clearly not feeling well. I'm pretty sure she just skipped her allergy pills so she wouldn't get selected.

You know what grown-ups do? They show up for jury duty and just roll with it. The one time I served on a case, we had the slowest talking judge evers, so it lasted twice as long as it needed to. But you know what? Based on the evidence they presented to us, the prosecution  never should've charged the guy and I was proud to be one of the twelve people who exonerated him. Hell, one of the alternate jurors gave me his phone numbers so I could call him and let him know how the case turned out.

That's how not boring and not lame it was.

The first time I was called for jury duty, I didn't get on a case. But I remember seeing one jury leaving for the day. They'd been selected, but the case wasn't starting that day. They were all dressed in business suits, or at least some of them were--ready to go into work as soon as they were excused for the day. They were already making friends and chatting with each other, clearly enthused about the case. Clearly, these people were not miserable that they'd been stuck on a jury.

I dunno. Maybe it's better for the system that jerks make themselves known by their lame excuses. But that doesn't mean the rest of us should aspire to join them.

What are your jury duty stories?


  1. Have you ever seen the tv show, Reba? There is an episode where Barbra Jean has Jury Duty and she is trying to get picked. She steals another jurors number, she jumps up and down saying "pick me!" I've only had jury duty once and that's how I felt. Now, I'm salaried, so I wasn't losing wages for the day and it was a nice change from the ordinary. Unfortunately, they just left me sitting in the hallway all day and never even called me into a courtroom. I was bummed.

  2. Once, in the 90s (before we had smart phones) I sat in Jury Duty waiting hell for three days. I brought a scrabble game with me and before I knew it, everyone wanted to hang out and play. It went from waiting hell to 'wish we could hang out longer.'


  3. I once made the mistake of bringing Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon with me to jury duty. All I knew about it going in was that it was a long book that I never gotten around to reading. What I know now is that it's really hard to get through and most people give up before the end.

    Imagine waiting around all day with only that to read.

  4. I've never been called - except once I did get a summons letter from a county I don't live in, but if I ever do, I will go, I will serve on a jury if called, and like you, I will feel proud to do it well. It's not like I really WANT to go, but it's just one of those things you do because you're supposed to, like... buying car insurance or something.


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