Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Civic Duty

I have wi-fi! What a surprise as I am in the jurors’ room waiting to see if I am called for jury service. Dekalb county has a lovely room for their jurors to wait. The seats are movie-theatre comfy, there are restrooms, vending machines, and frequent breaks. After being processed in at 8:15 (it took about 10 minutes to get through security, register, and get my badge), we heard a nice little speech from one of the judges on the importance of performing one’s jury service. Then we settled in to watch a 30 minute movie of interviews of Georgia Superior Court judges talking about what they do, what they like, don’t like, and want the public to know about their jobs, and why they chose to become judges. It was well-done, thoughtful and interesting—and definitely livened up by the prospective jurors seated around me.

Before the movie we were told to turn our cell phones off, so of course the cell phone of the man sitting diagonally behind me rang a couple of minutes into the movie. Not surprising, something so common—though impolite—that I wouldn’t even mention it but for the fact that instead of turning it off, he answered it! When everyone around him (including me) turned and glared at him in astonishment, he said helplessly that he didn’t know how to turn it off. The woman next to him took it from him, passed it to the man behind him, and that man supposedly turned it off. Then we all went back to the movie. 

Not too much later the man seated next to the man with cell phone—directly behind me—started to snore. At first it was just little snortles—and we all turned to look at him and then at each other, eyebrows raised and bemused grins on our faces—but then he really began to rumble long and loud. Finally when others in the room of 390 people started moving restlessly in protest, the man with the cell phone and the woman who grabbed his phone simultaneously jabbed the snoring man to wakefulness. He grumbled at them to "get off of me", and settled back into his seat. I grinned and whispered to him that he had been snoring, and he replied that he’d had to get up at 4:00 am to make it in for his service. I commiserated, and we all settled back in to watch the movie. Not five minutes passed before the man next to him’s phone rang again! I couldn’t help but laugh at this real slice of jury duty.

After the movie a few people were called to go up to the courtrooms, and the rest of us were given a 20-minute break—and encouraged more than once to go to Chick-Fil-A across the street (but not McDonald’s as they are really slow there and we would surely be late getting back). I used the opportunity to move from my comfy/funny place to a one of the four workstations with little desks and power strips in the room and now I am settled in till I get called or go to lunch. We get lunch for two hours from 12:00-2:00 and I am going to try to meet up with Dave. Then we are back in the room waiting to be called for selection pool until 4:00. If I get picked for a jury, I will be on jury duty till then end of the trial—surprisingly, not an unwelcome prospect. I am actually quite looking forward to the experience. If I don’t get picked today, my service ends today.

Deciding who gets called up to a courtroom as one of the 20-50 people in the pool for a single trial is done by randomly drawing the juror’s names—it isn’t linked to your juror number. I was kind of hoping it was, as I am juror #1 and would have been sent up to be chosen early. The group that was just called was called for a trial starting at 1:00 and they were told that they could leave and go home till then if they wanted, but they were abjured not to fall asleep as the court would then have to send the deputy to get them, and everyone else would have to wait, and it  “it would just be a big ‘ole mess”. Oooh, this is so much fun!


Bill said...

Although I get called fairly regularly, it's doubtful that they'll ever have a doctor on a jury...

Enjoy yourself!

Brenda Griffith said...

The judge that gave us an introduction to the process said she is trying a medical malpractice suit starting next week and that it is expected to go on longer than one or two days--the average length of time you are required to serve in Dekalb county.

Bill said...

Not quite what you'd want, what with being a small business owner.