Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jury Duty Day!!!

It all started so promising. After waiting for literally decades to get called I finally got my notice to appear. And just look at my juror number, it was like a sign!

So after waiting somewhat patiently for the month to pass it was finally time. Checked the website yesterday and the batch of jurors that were dismissed ahead of time didn't include my number so I was good to go!

I was very excited. I even asked Brent his opinion on what I should wear. I wanted to maximize my chances of being selected you see. So I wanted to look serious and interested but not flashy and over done. Yes, I really did put that much thought in to it. When I got there this morning I realized I was probably the only one who did but at least if I got chosen the person whose fate I was determining would know I took it seriously enough not to wear grubby jeans and a funny t-shirt.

First step! Waiting...
You may park on the 5th and 6th floors only, with the lovely view of the jail, just to remind you.

Make sure you get there early. But we won't tell you that we actually don't open the doors until 7:45.

Imma serve on a jury, but first let me take this cool shadow selfie...

So we wait for the doors to open. Then we are herded in to a line to wait to go through the body scanners. (Yes, Terri, you were right, wait here, now wait here, then wait over here) So while I was waiting for everyone to get scanned in I took a few shots of the building. Because...well have you met me?
It's pretty impressive right?

And there are LIONS! This has to be another good sign!

So then we get to the scanners, the woman at the door is directing people on what needs to be removed, drinks must be looked at, electronics must be scanned, do not cross the yellow line until you are called. I SAID DO NOT CROSS THE YELLOW LINE! I think the court house is where the people that were too serious for TSA come to work...Though I did get her to break when she said to me, "The bathrooms are at the top of the stairs. Do you have a drink I should see?" And I answered, "Well if you want to join me in the bathroom I guess you could. Let's just say I'm glad I'm at the front of the line now."  Then I had to remove my sandals and have them screened. I guess the metal on them would have set off the alarms. Next time I will wear plain ones, even though these totally make the outfit...

Okay so after the beverage vacating stop I head downstairs to the Jury Assembly Room. I meant to get a picture of that sign because it made me laugh but I figured there would be plenty of time for that later. On a bathroom break, or lunch, or something...

So we are handed our paperwork and there is an instruction sheet on the top. Fill out these things. Return these things. Keep these other things. Okay, simple enough. The questionnaire is nothing like what I had imagined. I thought there would be a lot of questions, but nope, just like 3 or 4. And only things you would figure. Are you friends or family with cops. Do you have any cases pending. Have you ever been a victim of violent crime. And really....aren't we all victims of violent crime in the global sense of community? But there were only yes or no boxes to check, no space for esoteric discussion. I guess that part comes later. I also waived my per diem and mileage money. I can live without the $12. 

So anyway, fill out my paperwork go to hand it all in where it belongs and help out three people, "You keep this form with you. No, keep that one as well." So I think if you can't follow that first set of instructions that should be when they tap you on the shoulder and send you out. Like a dance competition. Monitors roaming and if you are stuck on the first part then out you go. Also looking around the room if you are an older white guy you have a much stronger shot of a jury of your peers in Washington County than if you are a minority or a woman. Just saying. Lots of old white guys. 

So then the jury coordinator starts her spiel. First off turn off your electronics. Seriously. Off. Not silenced, not on vibrate. Turn them off. She will wait. And now she starts with the secrets of serving...What days are best for getting called, what time of month, all of that good insider information. Tuesdays are the days that the bigger trials begin so...(crowd moans except for one little excited squeeeee from the back). Also as this is Tuesday there will be the Hillsboro street fair starting at 3, so if you are parked on the street you will have to move your car by noon or be towed. I was thinking, if we get out early maybe I will waste some time at the street fair before heading to pick up Brent. That might be a nice cap to the day. Especially since we are supposed to be done by 5 and he won't be ready until 6. Perfect!

Then the acting presiding judge does his speech and takes questions. How many cases they hear in a day varies. Juveniles and domestic trials don't go before juries. Didn't know that. Grand Juries are only called at the first of the month (if you get a summons for first of the month and don't want to commit to a month of service you might want to reschedule, pick a Friday to come back for the least likely day to have to serve). The crowd gave a sigh of relief hearing we weren't in the Federal pool (long trials) or in the Grand Jury pool (multiple days). Well a sigh of relief and one disappointed groan. Who the hell is that freak?? 

After they give their talks we watch a movie about jury duty. Very patriotic. We are the backbone of the judicial system. It's so important that trial by jury is in the mother-fucking Declaration of INDEPENDENCE! And at this point I actually wondered how many people who shirk their duty really get how important it was to the founding fathers. We hear all the time about the Constitution and how these modern day patriots are only concerned with what the founding fathers would want. Well how about next time you get your summons you don't try to weasel your way out of it and instead serve like a true patriot? Hmmm???

Okay, so yeah, it was a very Rah! Rah! movie. But it was also really informative. You will start here, then go here, this will happen next, then this. Went through all of the stages of selection and what to expect from that process and also what to expect from a trial. Really nicely done. And yes, a lot of thank you for serving you awesome American patriot you. So by the end we are all feeling pretty darn good about being there.

Okay, maybe only that one freak in the back still. Everyone else wants to know when the first break will be so they can leave the room. Seriously people it's only 9 am. Relax.

So talks and movies are over. Jury coordinator lets us know there are 6 different things happening right now with pre-trial motions and other things so we are in a holding pattern. Possibly for a couple of hours. Well okay then...Also remember to keep your Juror button on at all times! Bathroom break, lunch break, if you are selected for a trial, if you have to come back tomorrow. Wear your button! And she was done...

Wear your damn button!
(I had a cool picture of my bag and book but it disappeared somehow oh well I switched out my skulls purse for my sparkly one, though I worried that maybe my sparkly one was too frivolous but I was sure the skulls one probably sent the wrong message so sparkles it was)

So I settle in to read and they start a really cheesy movie called "The Ultimate Gift", seriously cheesy. About an inheritance but you have to learn these valuable lessons about not being a douchecanoe first and there was a little girl who died of cancer and...other stuff. I just know that much from what filtered through while I was reading. (and yes, I actually thought about what book to have loaded on my Kindle to read just in case it might affect if I was suitable for selection or not!)

So about an hour in to the wait we finally get a rep from "upstairs" she gets her stack of randomly selected jury cards and starts calling numbers and names. There will be 28 of us that go in this group. There are over 200 people in the room so my odds aren't great, but not awful. The closest was 244. So nope...back to reading. 

And then about 45 minutes later the jury coordinator comes back to the front of the room. One of the trials that was slated for today has been postponed due to witness issues. After hearing pre-trial motions on another case the judge dismissed all of them and the defendant decided to waive his right to a trial by jury. And that was all that was left on the docket so you know what that means. And that was it. We were all released and have fulfilled our obligation for the next two years. A round of applause from the group and one quiet little sob. You waited until your number was called and turned in your juror pin and were dismissed. 

That was it.

I was done by 11.

They didn't even get to see the last few minutes of the cheesy movie.

I was so distraught I forgot to take a picture of the funny sign as I left. 

What a let down.

So I took a few more pictures of the courthouse.
It really is a lovely building.

I love the details they put in to these older structures

I wish I had gotten a closer shot of the lights. Beautiful old stained glass

And then took a few shots of the giant sequoias. 

Not a lot that makes you feel as small as a giant sequoia does

They've been here awhile

Just amazing.

And on that note of feeling pretty insignificant in a much larger world I ended my day of jury duty. 

Maybe next time I will get to leave the Jury Assembly room....

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