Tom Flanders World

Writer of Fiction
 
No Jury Duty For Tom

It took all day and I was only one lawyer rejection away from having my named called from the random list but it was not to be. The jury box filled up and we few remaining stragglers were dismissed.

The morning was interesting, especially the watching the check-in process. So many angry people and confused people who expected the clerk/receptionist to solve all their problems despite her constant attempts to explain that she did not have the power of a judge. The most amazing thing was how many had failed to read and/or understand their summons letters.

Then we got to watch the orientation video. It wasn’t so much informational as inspirational. Mostly it had recent jurors explaining how much they enjoyed the experience. It should have been titled THE HAPPY JUROR.

Pretty soon we were all called up to the courtroom. It was funny because the clerk had to call each of our names even though the lust included everyone in the room. We all filed into the courtroom and quickly discovered there weren’t nearly enough chairs. The bailiff had to go steal chairs from other courtrooms.

The judge came out and thanked us for coming then explained that the trial would take about a week. People freaked! Then he explained the legal concept of impossibility, and how only people with genuine impossibilities would be excused. He had people raise their hands if they believed the should be excused or if they didn’t understand English very well. Those of us who didn’t raise our hands were given an hour out of the courtroom.

When we got back most of the hand raisers were still there. Also there were the lawyers and the defendant, who was dressed almost identically to me. Creepy.

Then the jury selection began and things bogged down considerably. The same questions were asked over-and-over again. The removals started pretty quickly and consistently. At first it seemed like the lawyers and the judge were going after the blandest jury possible but if you paid attention you saw the patterns in their questions and how it weeded out people who would be biased one way or the other.

This brings out an interesting point. The people who claimed at first to have a biased were all revealed through the questioning to be fair-minded people. It was the people who most loudly proclaimed their lack of bias that were revealed to be the more closed-minded.

Watching all this it was pretty easy to tell who was trying to get out of jury duty by answering in a way that they thought that would lead to the lawyers rejecting them. Unfortunately for most of them the cross-questioning exposed their true intent. Though I did see at least one woman whose answers, if they weren’t genuine, caused just the right amount of doubt in the prosecutor’s mind.

Through all this there was an occasional diversion that caused some laughter by all involved. Apparently asking someone if they don’t understand English, in English, isn’t going to get you full results. Several people who were questioned were not native speakers and did their best to keep up but ultimately had to raise their hands in surrender.

So at 4:30 there were only a few of left unquestioned and each of the lawyers had two more jurors to dismiss, but all of a sudden it was done. Both lawyers passed on their last two refusals and the jury selection was finished. We were dismissed. Ah well, maybe next year.

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Tags: - Author: Tom - Published: August 23, 2012

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