Kelly the Culinarian: My Experience With Jury Duty

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Experience With Jury Duty

There is nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of law-abiding citizens quite like a legal summons. But jury duty is a whole other level of annoyance. I was initially selected as a Cook County alternate juror a few months ago. What that means is the day before you're scheduled to appear, you call a number and they tell you if you're needed.

However, I was scheduled to travel right around that time, so I asked for a reprieve and was granted it easily through an automated phone system. That meant the next time I was summoned in roughly 90 days, I would have to appear instead of call in.

Just appearing was a big pain in the ass. We live in the suburbs and I had to drive to the train station, pay to park, take the train and then walk to the courthouse in the cold. All of that is not reimbursed, and jury duty pays $17 a day. So I was already in the hole on this.

I expected to spend the day hanging out in a jury waiting room reading. Alas, after I checked in and had my ID signed off on, we watched a super corny VHS orientation video starring Lester Holt with a mustache and I was called up around 9:40 a.m. My panel and several others were shown to another floor and led into an empty courtroom to wait. About 30 minutes later, we were all led into another courtroom where the attorneys and their representatives were already seated. We were sworn in by a clerk and once the judge entered the court, she told us the nature of the case and that she thought the civil trial would last five days. It was a personal injury claim involving a scooter and a taxi on a very busy thoroughfare in Chicago.

The judge asked if anyone was older than 75, couldn't understand English or had any conflicts. A number of people were dismissed almost immediately for travel plans or medical reasons. We were also asked if jury duty would cause undue hardship and if we can be fair and impartial. The judge asked if we knew any of the parties or each other. This was my unwitting first step towards being dismissed: I asked one of the attorneys if he had ever been a divorce attorney, because I swear he looked familiar from my personal legal proceedings. It turns out I did not know him, but the I'm guessing no one really wants to be linked to divorces.

TFW you're dismissed from jury duty
After the judge questioned us for about an hour, each party to the lawsuit had the opportunity to question the jury about matters they thought were pertinent to the case. Questions included had we ever seen aggressive driving in the city, could we be unbiased to a cab driver, did we have any issues with people not born in this country, how did we feel about people who stopped to help at the scene of an accident, etc. 

I asked a lot of questions.

This is ultimately (I believe) why after allllll the questioning and screening, I was not selected as a juror. They probably don't want jurors who ask too many questions or look too deeply into stuff. After all the questions were asked, the judge and attorneys retired to chambers to actually select the jury. I was thanked for my time and sent back up to the jury holding room. By this time, it was 1:40 p.m. and we had not been given a lunch break. So they gave us our meager checks and told us to go home.

Evidently, if it were earlier in the day, we would have had to wait for the rest of the afternoon in the event that they needed more jurors.

So I took the train back home and thanked my lucky stars I would not be doing that whole routine for another week. I signed the check over to my employer so I could receive my normal wage, and was assured I will not be called up for jury duty for another 12 months.

Thank goodness for small favors.

1 comment:

Mo said...

I'm in the minority, but I love jury duty. I get to read books all day and I don't have to go to work. Plus my employer lets me keep my check. WIN!