Monday, June 30, 2008

My Day in Court

In By Nine, Out By Ten!

I'm home from my day at court, or rather, my morning at court. Of the approximately 250 people that were summoned, my number was 220. At least half the names called out during the roll call were no-shows. I'm confused by that. Where were those 100+ people who were summoned but didn't appear? Do they not consider a summons to be a command? Are they not fearful of the consequences of not showing up when called? Or are there no consequences?

Me, I'm too much of a chicken to risk not following the rules. I don't want to chance having the jury police show up at my door. Yes, I'm a wuss. That, and I guess that deep down, I do consider it my civic duty...up to a point.

I arrived at 8:45, despite my intentions of making it there by 8:30. The summons said to be there at 9:00, but having been called last year, I knew that roughly 300 people would be called, and there is bench seating for approximately 25 people. That means less than 10% would actually get to sit. I didn't make it in time for a seat on a bench, but I did score a spot of wall space. Even that was a premium by the time I arrived. I quickly began chatting with a man and woman nearby. In the 20 or so minutes we stood there, we covered living in Mexico verses the states, the harried job of a border patrol agent (the woman's soon to be son-in-law is one), illegal immigrants (the man's Mexican wife has sisters living here illegally), what we think of the presidential candidate choices (we were all agreed in our opinions on that subject). The courtroom doors then opened, and we were instructed to go in and have a seat.

After the soft spoken, kindly looking judge explained to us what an honor and a privilige it was for us to be there (I agree), and told us the nature of the two cases for which they'd be selecting jurors today, he read the qualifications for exemption. He asked that everyone vacate the courtroom except those desiring to be excused. He would then interview each person with an excuse and determine whether it was viable or not.

I was really torn whether to go or sit there. I was already there, and I do find the whole process somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, I have a bladder problem. TMI (too much information), I know! I had a very real concern that I wouldn't be able to sit through the jury picking process, much less in a juror's seat if selected. Not only do I have to go frequently, but when I have to go, I have to go then. The thought of having to walk up there and stand between two men (not sure who they were), on my tiptoes no less, as the judge's desk was high and I am short, and explain this problem was a tad daunting. I knew if I didn't, I'd be setting myself up for possible misery. I said a prayer, asked God to let me find favor in the judge's eyes, and marched up there when the bailiff pointed at me.

Not only did the judge look kindly, he was kindly. He told me he also suffers a similar problem (he was an older man). He said that if I were a selected juror, I'd have to be prepared to sit in the box for up to 1 1/2 hours at a time, which I knew I couldn't do. He excused me. I was relieved and let down, all at the same time.

As to the knitting, I got summoned last year, too. I took my knitting then and no one ever said a word to me about it. Today, I carried my knitting around in a clear plastic pouch, aluminum double pointed needles prominently displayed. No one said a thing. I didn't have a chance to use them, but I don't think it would have been a problem. This is a small town, and things here are pretty laid back, compared to urban areas.

I have things I want to show you, but I haven't taken pictures. We're having a sunny day today (not too hot, either-yea!). My well laid plans are to take some pictures outside. The best laid plans of mice and men........

14 comments:

kim said...

Oh, Yay you! I'm going to have to remember that one... :)

cindee said...

yikes 100 didn't show? I can't imagine not going. I would be freaking that the cops would come and get me(-: I am glad you got off for your sake. That would be very difficult to do. I am a wus too. (-:

Lea of Farmhouse*Blessings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lea of Farmhouse*Blessings said...

Oh Renna, you are sooo funny! You know, the jury police would find me too. I always follow the rules.

And you were so brave. I think I would have fainted before explaining myself.

Can't wait to see your pictures!

Smiles,
Lea

cinnamongirl93 said...

I've been called a few times. Both times I was never interviewed. My hubby was called in the spring. He said that they sure asked some very embarrassing questions to some of the people.
Can't wait to see your pictures!

Farm Chick Paula said...

I love the play by play! I can just see you scouring the room for a "wall space", you poor baby. I hate walking in a crowded room with all eyes on me... I would have lost bladder control right then and there. I'm so glad you had an understanding judge, though... most of them are, well, you know. NOT understanding at all!

randi said...

The last time I had jury duty, the judge was being a stickler when it came to letting people go. One woman had 3 children under the age of three and had no babysitting options, and the judge still made her stay. She got picked for the jury and had to drive them 3 hours to her mother's house so that she could sit on the jury! I am really glad your judge was more understanding!

Wool Winder said...

All in all, it sounds like things went well. I don't think our court allows knitting needles. I was summoned once, but ended up not having to report.

Apron Thrift Girl said...

I listened to an interesting NPR show (American Life maybe...) about the people who read the excuses on the forms. There are some very wacky ones out there. It might be on the archive at NPR if you do a search.

Debra said...

Renna, What a day you've had! I've been summoned many times, but couldn't go because of homeschooling. Now that we are done, I will go if I get one of those little letters. And I'll take my knitting! Love, Debra

MSM said...

I was summoned when the kids were little, and I was babysitting another. I had no backup or substitutes, and they went with me when I went in. The judge let me "off", but frankly he was rather hateful and reluctant. He looked at me as if I'd borrowed the three kids from someone just to get out of jury duty!

Tipper said...

I too would be scared to just not show up-I mean don't they come find you? I totally understand how you feel about wanting to be there but not being able too. I think it would be so interesting-but then it would also be intimidating. Glad you were able to carry your needles around. Sometimes security can go overboard.

Marilyn @ A Mixed Bouquet said...

I'm glad that he was understanding of your problem. Whew! Perhaps you can get a doctor's note for future use.

A Servant of the King said...

It's been years since I've been called to jury duty. I've always had homeschooling as the reason I couldn't go but that will be coming to an end in 4 years!