Recently, I was summoned for jury duty.
I do not know how it works in other states but if you are from NY I am sure you are sitting there wondering why the hell I did not just throw the thing out. But I did, when I was first summoned back in December. And every time before that, for years.
Then a few months later I received another summons. This one slightly more threatening and scary than the first one so I figured I better answer this one. (insert eye roll, here) And of course, like most unplanned things, I was expected to perform my civic duty a week in June when we were changing over our entire computer system and my boss was not trying to hear that. So I postponed it until, let’s say, October – I had nothing going on in October. The new system should be mostly functional by then. And wouldn’t you know, I got my summons at the end of September for October.
You’re on in NYS. Just this one time.
As my date approached it occurred to me that that the “smart people” get out of sitting on a jury. The last time I was summoned for jury service I used my job to “get out of it”. When my father was summoned (for a civil trial involving a child who got hurt on school property) all he had to say, which was the truth, was something along the lines of you know kids don’t listen. And he was out.
God forbid I was ever on trial for something that required a “jury of my peers” I would be TERRIFIED.
While just sitting in the waiting area of the Commission of Jurors office the actual Commissioner sat in front of us explaining every. single. form.
Every. single. question.
The initial summons paperwork that is mailed to your home explains that if you are a full-time student you are not expected to serve as a jury member until you have graduated. So explain to me why there was a full-time student in the room? (Who was promptly excused).
Forms that needed to be handed in regarding whether you are working or not in order to get paid… it is a required form. You have to fill it out. Mandatory. Something must be on those lines. How is it that people handed that form in blank.
These are the people that are supposed to decide someone’s future.
If you can’t figure out how to fill out a form or read, you should automatically be disqualified.
As I sat in that cold ass room, listening to how to fill out the bubbles on a data collection sheet I realized maybe it was not such a bad thing to be called for jury duty. I certainly did not want the unexpected inconvenience, but people who should at the very least be able to fill out forms without needing step by step directions should be there.
People with common sense are needed. People who are for the most part functioning productive members of society.
It is 2018. As a society, as adults 18 years or older with no felony convictions, we should not need this much direction.
But just like everything else in life, we hurry up and wait.
We were told it is not like you see on TV. This was not, in fact, a murder trial. We can leave the room. We can actually go outside and get some fresh air. We were encouraged to bring something to do to pass the time. They had wifi.
And then, out of nowhere, we were all dismissed because of a sick attorney. We had to wait for the attorney to provide a doctor’s note to the judge.
Yes, it could be quite an inconvenience but maybe it is not such a bad thing to sit on a jury. Maybe I am only saying this because I am good now for six years and in seven years when I am summoned again I will feel differently. Maybe I say this because I will probably never sit on a jury because of my job. But honestly, most people will probably never sit on a jury. People are too biased, one way or another, to make a rational decision based solely on facts instead of their feelings.
While I roll my eyes when I am told it is my civic duty to serve as a juror. I get it. It’s important and it should be taken seriously.