Saturday, August 26, 2023

Jury Duty: The Saga Concludes

Well, I completed my jury duty obligation. It was very interesting, and it’s odd to use the word “interesting” to describe something that was more boring than watching grass grow. The interesting aspect was seeing the inner workings of a big courthouse and knowing that we were a part of something very important. But what it boiled down to for me was spending 7-1/2 hours just sitting and waiting, until I finally was brought into a courtroom and asked a few questions, which took about three minutes.

During the day, various courthouse employees repeatedly told us, “Thank you for your service.” I had to check to see if I didn’t accidentally put on a military uniform that morning rather than my usual golf shirt and khakis. 
Speaking of clothing, the instructions I was sent beforehand clearly said no tee shirts and no shorts. Oh great, that means I had to go commando for jury duty! And without boxer shorts, I was pretty chafed by 2 pm.

The festivities finally began about 45 minutes after we were supposed to arrive – or 90 minutes after I arrived. What can I say? I hate to be late, and traffic into Hartford was surprisingly light that morning.

All the prospective jurors gathered on the 4th floor of the courthouse and then someone in a nice suit and tie gave us a little lecture. Then we saw two different videos. Then another person, this time an actual judge, gave us another lecture – and, of course, thanked us for our service. 

At about 11 am, all 35 prospective jurors were escorted downstairs to an empty courtroom. As we entered the room, I noticed that every single one of us looked like a defendant in a trial we knew we were going to lose. We were that grim. I’ve seen happier looking people in the waiting room of an endodontist’s office. (That’s a root canal doctor, by the way, which means no one in that waiting room was giggling with joy.)
I could tell that every one of us, whether we were religious or not, was praying fervently that we would not be chosen to serve on a trial. The state’s judicial website said that 90-percent of people who get summoned to jury duty complete their obligation in one day. But each of the 35 people in that room sure seemed convinced that he or she was going to be in the 10-percent who would get assigned to Connecticut’s version of the O.J. trial. That is, we’d be selected to serve on a jury for a long, drawn out trial, which would completely disrupt our lives, not to mention our financial security, for the next three or four months. Well, I can’t really say for sure if everyone was as fatalistic as I was, but they all looked very sullen and frustrated. 

Even though our ages ranged from the 20s to the 70s, we all had one thing in common (besides being glum). We each had a smartphone, which we stared at incessantly for hour after hour. (What did prospective jurors do before smartphones, other than go insane with boredom?)

Finally, after 7-1/2 hours, they called my name and I was escorted into a different courtroom, which had a judge, a bunch of lawyers, and a defendant charged with murder. They asked me some questions, which I answered truthfully. Then the judge thanked me for my service and dismissed me.
I suspect I wasn’t chosen because the defense attorney didn’t like the scowl on my face. But I wasn’t biased against his client. It was the chafing. 

When I left, I celebrated my freedom by going straight to a pharmacy and buying some Gold Bond. 

No comments:

Post a Comment