Monday, November 8, 2010

The Exact Opposite of "As Seen On TV"

Today I had the opportunity to fulfill one of the greatest civil duties second only to military service: jury duty in my county of residence. How do I know it's one of the greatest civil duties second only to military service? My official summons told me as much.

Slated as Juror 12, I showed up to court today for the beginning of my two weeks of service with mixed feelings. Part of me was pumped to see the justice system at work complete with smart opening statements, intense cross examinations, passionate objections from the opposing counsel, damning eyewitness testimonies, and the piece de resistance for any Law & Order junkie, a teary admission of guilt from the witness stand. The other more rational part of me was hoping that on this beautiful 70 degree day I would show up, be immediately dismissed thereby leaving me free to spend the rest of my day getting a jump start on some Christmas shopping.

While it was in the end interesting to see how the process works in person, during the many, many moments of downtime and resulting boredom I couldn't stop my brain from going to that place of "This is how I'm going to blog about today," specifically with bullet points. Without further ado:
  • Let me start with this important nugget: in terms of criminal cases in our county, anyone who shows up expecting Dick Wolf-esque court scenes unfold before them is sure to be sorely disappointed.
  • The juror staging area took place in what my idea of a courtroom should be: a grand expanse of a rooms with pictures of dead presidents and former distinguished judges adorning the walls, a daunting looking judge's stand placed high above the rest of the courtroom, worn and weathered wood floors and matching railing at the front, uncomfortable wooden seats for the people watching (I'm sure there's a more technical name for this area but it escapes me now), beautiful stained glass windows, heavy doors leading into the room. The room where the actual trial took place? A small room with paneled walls, carpeted floors, four rows of wood benches, and cushy jurors chairs. Lame.
  • There is a very valid reason why Law & Order: Jury Selection is not among the series' hits.
  • Serving as your own defense lawyer should be considered only as a total last resort unless you yourself are a lawyer and then in that case that's just using good financial sense
  • If I were be called as a defendant in this county, given the jury pool on this particular case as a sample I'd calling for an immediate mistrial. "Jury of my peers" this group was not (although those I served with were very nice and fair citizens).
  • God love him and his senior citizen soul, but if a riot broke out in court I would be more likely to rush toward the bailiff in an attempt to save him rather than the other way around. A total sweetheart, but far from the intimidating force you see on Judge Judy.
  • Hearing the word which sounds very similar to "brother trucking" and that which is the biblical word for donkey multiple times from multiple sources throughout a trial (especially when not prepared for or warned about their use) will bring out the twelve year old boy in me, forcing me to fight back giggles with great effort in an attempt to maintain a sense of maturity and dignity.
  • "Five minutes" in court time translates to "Twenty-Five to Thirty minutes" in real time.
  • A too short skirt, no nylons, and heavy black high heeled clogs with criss-crossing metal buckles does not scream "professional" to prospective jurors (not that I based my decision of innocent versus guilty on this, although clearly someone would have been found guilty of a crime against fashion with that getup had that been the charge in question).
So the day wasn't quite as exciting as they make it appear on prime time. I suppose I knew that going in, but still I was glad to have been allowed the experience. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for the next two weeks that the courts didn't find me such a desirable juror that they ask me back. I was glad for the experience, but this one will last me for awhile.


Barb said...

It wasn't fun only because I wasn't the attorney doing jury selection :) Just kidding.

You are TOTALLY right; jury selection is a snoozer. And totally right in that in the legal word, five minutes means at least twenty if not more!

My only point of disagreement is a lesson we learned in law school: Only a fool has himself for a lawyer (EVEN a lawyer).

Munchkin said...

Well hello Barb, I'm Munchkin. I don't believe we've met. By the way, what kind of attorney did you say you are?

The Page Turner said...

My favorite part: crime of fashion. Why is it my favorite, because as soon as you saw that lady you could not wait to get home and blog about her. I hope you spend more time at court. We can look forward to more great blogs. Can someone get a fair trial in black clogs in 2010? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I believe the place for spectators to sit is called the gallery...but I won't swear to it!!

Parker said...

For my job, I occasionally have to testify. The first time I did it, I was just as deflated as you!

And, it seems to me that Munchkin is soliciting an attorney?!

The MC said...

You're SO lucky!! I've always wanted to be on a jury!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails