Monday, April 06, 2009

Live Blogging Jury Duty

(well, not really live…but this is how today went down at Suffolk Superior Court)

6:50 AM – Finally get out of bed, check my jury summons to ensure that I’m due to arrive at 9:00 AM for my Jury Du….uh-oh, I’m supposed to be there at 8:00 AM. How did I overlook this? Better get moving.

8:05 AM – I show up. 5 minutes late, but no big deal, as there is a line of about 20 people waiting to register and enter the Jury Pool room, which I discover has seats for about 150 people, most of which will be filled before registration has ended. I signed in and they handed me a random number, not based on time of arrival but rather already pre-assigned.

8:34 AM – We watch a brief video about the selection process, including any relevant terminology and what to expect from today. While the video was indeed informative, it was clearly produced in the era of Night Court – everything from the production values, on-screen captioning, and attire of the people in the video. Frosted hair, stuffy suits, pencil mustaches. Classic 1985.

8:50 AM – A judge welcomes us. Thanks us for coming, mentions how important our service is to the judicial process, and tries to break the ice with some levity and a few stories. OK, let’s get this show on the road…

9:30 AM – We receive a 25 minute break, meaning we’re not required to wait, but can wander around for 25 minutes until we’re required to once again…wait.

10:21 AM – Still waiting. I’m tagging photos of my Iceland trip.

10:55 AM – Yep, waiting. Just finished reading Weekly Dig and Improper Bostonian.

11:14 AM – My number is called (finally) and I’m shuffled into a court room where about 60 other jurors already sat. The judge welcomed us, thanked us for coming, and mentioned how important our service is to the judicial process (wait…this sounds familiar). No levity though, we’re in a courtroom.

11:25 AM – The judge begins explaining the case to us, stating the names of the defendant and any potential witnesses. He also explains the context of the case, and that it will likely last for one week. I take that as meaning two weeks.

11:36 AM – The judge begins asking questions, instructing us that any jurors who wish to answer “Yes” to any questions should raise their juror numbers at the appropriate times.

11:45 AM – Upon asking if any jurors would have difficulty remaining unbiased in this case due to what we had just learned about it, I raise my juror number….along with about 40-45% of the jurors in the room. This situation might have been one of the very few that I absolutely could not remain unbiased. I was being honest. Clearly, others were too. Sorry Judicial System, you probably don’t want me for this one.

12:03 PM – We’re shuffled into another courtroom to wait.

12:35 PM – Still waiting. I’m almost finished with my final reading material, GQ.

1:00 PM – Lunch break! We’re told to return at 2:00 PM. Busy day of doing nothing…I head to Whole Foods, as it’s vegetable day on the diet and they have a good salad bar.

1:30 PM – Mmmmm edamame.

1:50 PM – I return to the court room, a bit early. They appear to have moved us again, this time to the 9th floor mezzanine. I am escorted up there to find people everywhere, mostly seated in the hallway.

2:15 PM – Some bailiffs begin bringing a few chairs out for some people. I elect to remain standing.

2:20 PM – Tired of standing - I join many others sitting on the cold, hard floor. No more chairs were presented to us.

2:35 PM – I begin listening to the Mets-Reds game on my MLB.com iPhone app, however the awful accents of the announcers on WLW irritate me too much to continue.

2:55 PM – They call a few jurors away into another room, but I am not one of them. In the hallway I remain. Why are the interiors of state and federal buildings so depressing and ugly?

3:05 PM – I find an open deliberating room and steal a chair from there.

3:20 PM – I begin “live blogging” jury duty, sitting in my newly acquired chair, still in the hallway.

3:34 PM – Chair. Hallway. Waiting.. Officially 454 minutes after I arrived. I believe they close at 4:30 PM. Perhaps this will be my final hour here.

3:38 PM – I could use some Advil and a nap.

3:59 PM – The last time I served on a jury, not only was I selected, but they picked me by 11:30 AM AND they showed us Sister Act 2 in the Jury Pool room. No movies today. We’re all still waiting around. What a waste of time.

4:00 PM – Bailiff retrieves us and brings us back into the courtroom.

4:05 PM – “All Rise!” (I don’t get why we have to do this…it’s not church)

4:08 PM – Judge informs us that he is about 2/3 set with the jury for this case, and while normally he would have all of us RETURN TOMORROW to continue waiting to see if he needed us, he felt that Tuesday’s Juror Pool would allow him to fill out the balance of this particular jury without depleting the juries for the other trials this week. He said that a case like this, where many jurors recuse themselves, usually requires far more time to assemble a qualified, unbiased jury.

What I find peculiar about today’s jury selection was that while I raised my juror number card when asked if anyone would have difficulty remaining unbiased, that fact was never a determining factor in my dismissal from jury service. We were brought back into the courtroom numerically, and since my number was one of the higher ones, they kept me waiting in the hallway longer. I was excused because they ran out of time.

2 comments:

Josh said...

I strong suggest you reconsider posting your updates for jury duty. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7948845.stm

Jason said...

I'm not on the trial, nor did I say anything revealing about it. Clearly if I was actually seated on the jury, I'd keep that to myself.