In The Box

So, this month I have been on-call for Federal District Court jury duty.  It’s not so bad, you don’t have to report unless you’re called in and you can check each week online.  I was actually on-call last February too but never had to report.  Every time  I've checked in the message it was: "Check in again next Sunday after 6 pm to see if you need to report the following Monday".  I had never seen the Federal courthouse.  It's been like a running joke here.
Well, not anymore.  Last Sunday, I received the “Report at 7:30 a.m. on Monday to…” and the adventure was on.  I have to say the Federal process was a lot like the local one, except that the facilities were nicer.  And there were pictures of John Roberts hanging around.  I have been seated for a case (which of course I can’t say anything about) that should take about a week.

Some observations:
I’m a sucker for inspirational videos.  Maybe it’s me, but the introductory video that featured commentary from Chief Justice Roberts and Justices O’Connor and Alito made me want to make sure that I covered my part of the process.  One quote from O’Connor was, “Sure jury service is inconvenient, but sometimes so is the First Amendment, but we’re all glad we have it.”
The Fed has clearly adopted a get tough policy on people that claim they "too busy" for jury duty during the question-and-answer period.  His Honor's answer to a couple of entreaties like that was pretty much "Tough @#$&!" — actually, it was "That's fine.  If you'd rather schedule a better time when you can use your vacation to fulfill your jury service, we can arrange that."  Awesome.  Oddly no one took him up on that. 
Many people are clueless.  In the packet that was mailed to us at the beginning of the month were instructions about where to go to park for free – a pretty good deal considering parking rates in downtown San Diego.  During check-in, I would say more than a third of people parked somewhere else because they “didn’t read the directions”.
I live in a bubble.  During the prospective juror Q&A, one of the questions is: have you or anyone in your family been convicted of a crime?  I was amazed at the number of DUIs, drug offenses and worse (I mean, who doesn’t have a money laundering uncle?).  I mean, it had to be like every other person.  Wow – there really is a whole side of the community that I don’t see.
Should be really interesting!

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23 thoughts on “In The Box

  1. Never been selected for any jury duty – or rather, the 1 notice I got was a year after I left Syracuse, and I sent back my response saying because I was now a resident of Maryland, I would not be traveling up to New York to report for jury duty.Sounds interesting – hope it's no longer than a week and you can stay awake during the trial!

  2. Never been selected for any jury duty – or rather, the 1 notice I got was a year after I left Syracuse, and I sent back my response saying because I was now a resident of Maryland, I would not be traveling up to New York to report for jury duty.Sounds interesting – hope it's no longer than a week and you can stay awake during the trial!

  3. I've been wondering if I would be able to get out of jury duty. I work a pretty specialized job where there aren't many backups and since I work for the media, there's a decent chance I already know about the crime.

  4. I've been wondering if I would be able to get out of jury duty. I work a pretty specialized job where there aren't many backups and since I work for the media, there's a decent chance I already know about the crime.

  5. Haa! I also find those types of videos interesting – most people are bored to tears but I feel it's a nice change (I don't get out much either). That reminds me, my 3 years is almost up….gah! I'm also amazed at how many people show up clueless, the directions are not that complicated.
    It's nice they allow for rescheduling. I've heard of nightmare scenarios where a juror will get called in for a big case and miss months of work – and only get paid minimum wage for their time. Hopefully that's rare!

  6. Haa! I also find those types of videos interesting – most people are bored to tears but I feel it's a nice change (I don't get out much either). That reminds me, my 3 years is almost up….gah! I'm also amazed at how many people show up clueless, the directions are not that complicated.
    It's nice they allow for rescheduling. I've heard of nightmare scenarios where a juror will get called in for a big case and miss months of work – and only get paid minimum wage for their time. Hopefully that's rare!

  7. it should be interesting! I was scheduled for some sort of jury duty back in the day but had an exam. My teacher who didnt want to give the exam twice wrote a letter, and I was excused….I wouldn't mind doing it, if it was only a week. In fact, I might find it a bit relaxing as long as I wasnt trying to decide if a person was going to get the death penalty or not!

  8. I've had jury duty quite a few times, but I've only ever gotten the "please call back tomorrow" message. I've never once been to the courthouse.
    *runs around frantically to find some wood to knock on*

  9. Kelly — they weren't taking many excuses — even from independent businesspersons about having a negative impact on the workplace. Now, whether the attorneys would want to keep you on a jury after hearing you work for the media?? That might be a different story… :)

  10. Kelly — they weren't taking many excuses — even from independent businesspersons about having a negative impact on the workplace. Now, whether the attorneys would want to keep you on a jury after hearing you work for the media?? That might be a different story… :)

  11. Emmi — there was a guy who was unemployed and who had his first interview in a long time this week. They didn't excuse him right away, but when it came down to jury selection, they let him go — which I thought was a nice move.

  12. Emmi — there was a guy who was unemployed and who had his first interview in a long time this week. They didn't excuse him right away, but when it came down to jury selection, they let him go — which I thought was a nice move.

  13. katie — the judge said that sometimes very complicated crime trials can go for more than 5 months! Man — now THAT'S a tough commitment. Fortunately, that's not close to our trial.

  14. katie — the judge said that sometimes very complicated crime trials can go for more than 5 months! Man — now THAT'S a tough commitment. Fortunately, that's not close to our trial.

  15. I've gotten one summons. I called the courthouse with this great excuse ready (which may or may not have been true) and before I could get half the sentence out of my mouth, the clerk said they'd recall me in six months. That was something like eight years ago. Have fun!

  16. Been on jury duty three times, once Federal. It's very interesting to see how things are so carefully scripted in court and then to learn sthings afterwards that they couldn't bring up in court, that if you had heard, it might have swung things the other way. I guess my take away was that you hear the "facts", are given instructions, then figure out what to do from there. Not too bad of a gig actually.

  17. I know it's crazy but I've always wanted jury duty.
    I guess right now I'll live vicariously through your experience.
    It pays really well, right?!? (loads of sarcasm there!)

  18. Steph — I highly recommend it. (And highly on the fact that I was on a case that lasted a week, not 4 months)… we were paid $40/day + mileage, which paid for more than lunch. :)

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