Jury Duty

Sandman Jazz has given us another of his Sandman’s Writing Challenges. This time the starting point is:

You are due to appear in court, what is the case and in what capacity are you in the court?

B1A74655-308C-4D49-99C8-61A59484465BIt was 9:00 and the beginning of the third day of voir dire, or jury selection. They needed to select twelve jurors and six alternates out of the original 150 in the jury pool who started out.

At the start the first day, the bailiff called out 18 names, each assigned a numbered seat in the jury box. One by one, they were questioned by the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, and the judge. Some were accepted, some were excused. By the end of that day, they had worked their way through almost three dozen prospective jurors.

There were only two vacant chairs by day three and six of us remaining in the available pool. By midday, there was but one vacant chair and two of us left in the pool — me and a twenty-something young woman. She leaned over to me and whispered, “I so want them to pick me. I’ve never served on a jury before.” I wished her luck.

Sure enough, hers was the name the bailiff called. Upon hearing her name, she squealed with delight. When she took her seat in the jury box and the questioning began, she started giggling and could not stop. She kept apologizing, trying to explain how excited she was to be serving on the jury, but after about five minutes of non-stop giggling, it was too much for the judge.

“Young lady, you’re excused from jury duty,” the judge said, and instructed the bailiff to remove the nearly hysterical woman from the jury box.

The judge looked at the bailiff. The bailiff looked at me, motioned for me to come forward and to sit down on chair number 18. “Shit,” I muttered to myself.

Without either attorney or the judge asking me a single question, the judge said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have our jury. Court is adjourned until 9 am tomorrow,” and she slammed her gavel on her desk.

Image credit: http://www.doar.com

9 thoughts on “Jury Duty

  1. newepicauthor June 7, 2020 / 8:43 am

    The best way to get excused from jury duty is to say, “I can tell he is guilty just by looking at him.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marleen June 7, 2020 / 12:07 pm

    I struggled to find a parking spot and hurried across the dark pavement, sidewalks, and bits of grass as I took shortcuts, hoping not to be late to the designated room in the county courthouse. I briefly walked next to a woman who was headed toward the huge classical building as well. She said her son was in some kind of trouble (I don’t remember her using that word). She seemed a normal, troubled but sober, mother doing her duty to show up and face the situation.

    I had no idea what the subject matter was to be or who would be involved in the case I was called to consider… if, after consideration on the part of the usual players, I were to be chosen for the jury. I moved along, ahead of the woman so I wouldn’t be late. Then it occurred to me it would be best not to talk to any other people, if defendants were entering in the same way I was (although the woman’s son was not with her and his situation might not be relevant to me anyway).

    When I got to the bank of heavy front doors, a pleasant and suited young man opened a door for me. Opened the door I had aimed for; I thanked him. Once things got underway inside, I saw the mother sitting in a section for interested parties. The case involved a step brother (or the like if the children weren’t officially adopted) allegedly assaulting the daughter of the woman’s husband. I hope, as a minimum, that this was their relationship and that they weren’t blood siblings.

    It’s been a while. I may have known more details back then. For instance, the mother may have said more. She might be the one who told me the conflict was between her son and her daughter, while the judge indicated it was a merged family. What I remember thinking is that one could have second thoughts no matter how it came out; and, two, I would be very capable of listening and doing the very best that could be done. But the “best” could weigh on the soul for… ever.

    I didn’t end up on the jury. I didn’t laugh and giggle. I raised my hand and offered an answer without being directly asked — which had been put in the category of acceptable behaviors… acceptable protocol. Yet, it wasn’t acceptable for jury qualification to the defense attorney. When I spoke, he looked stunned. Sort of the deer-in-the-headlights look for a few seconds. But he was thinking and evaluating. I hope my words were well-heard by most before I happily left.


    Did that really happen, when you went for jury duty — a giggling young lady?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen June 9, 2020 / 12:32 am

        Mine was real, and the defense attorney “heard” something resembling he could be guilty. Even though it’s not what I said.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. leigha66 June 10, 2020 / 1:27 am

    Great story. I’ll have to remember that the next time I get jury duty.

    Liked by 1 person

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