Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Jury Duty is a Trial

I've just completed my part in supporting our judicial system, and I did so by sitting on my butt for 5 hours reading a book. That had to have been one of the least stimulating experiences I can remember.

The night before I was excited. I was nervous. Could I sit in judgment of anybody? What if it's a gruesome case with lots of horribly detailed pictures? What should I wear? What should I bring? I even downloaded the Wisconsin Jury Handbook and read it while my wife watched the Olympics. I was ready.

"Arrive early" said the summons, so I was there at 7:45, signed in and sitting in one of the high back conference chairs. A little after 8:00 we saw a video about our duties as a juror. "I'll turn up the volume since all of you won't be able to see it. And some of the laws talked about in the video have been changed. For instance it will say you don't have to serve for 2 more years. That was changed to every 4 years in 1997." It was an old video.

We were then on break until 9:00.

At 10:30 they came into the jury room and said "Jurors 3-358 please follow the bailiff to Judge So&So's court room." I was #573.

At 11:00 they came into the jury room and said "Jurors 359-435 please follow the bailiff to Judge So&So's court room." I was still #573.

The guy next to me is fast asleep. His walkman was blaring loud enough for me to hear John Phillips Sousa.

At 11:30 they came into the jury room and said "Jurors 436-555 please follow the bailiff to Judge So&So's court room." I was continuing as #573.

The guy next to wakes, and gets to leave. Nice name for a Broadway show: "So Long, Sousa."

At 11:45 they came into the jury room and said "Jurors 597-650 can go home, you are dismissed and have fulfilled your obligation for 4 years." Still #573 and holding.

At 12:00 they came into the jury room and said "Jurors 575-598 can go home, you are dismissed and have fulfilled your obligation for 4 years.The rest of you, please wait. I'll have more information soon" Big sigh from juror #573.

Now there are only 10 people left in the jury room, including juror #573. It felt like a reverse lottery. Was I a winner? Finally at 12:30 the rest of us are dismissed, our obligation fulfilled.

That was it. I was done. I didn't even get to see a court room. Weeks ago I saw the original "Godzilla" movie without Raymond Burr. Now I still didn't get to see a lawyer, especially Perry Mason or Ironsides. I drove home disappointed.

So be nice to my butt, it protected your rights to a fair trial.

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