Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jury Duty

Christmas time is a very busy time at my work. I was scheduled to work five days a week most of the month of December. I was a bit stressed from jury duty, but not too badly. Monday night, a week before Christmas basically, I got called in for jury duty on Tuesday the 20th. I was peeved to be going in on my day off again, but I figured I'd be out of there by 4.

I went in at 1pm when we were told to. There was more paperwork than expected yada yada so we finally got started at 2. Within an hour, I was yet again among the 20 to be questioned, along with many of the same people as the week previously. What a random chance!!

From there, they sent all the other potential jurors home with the promise to call at 8am. They gave us the timeline that we would be done around 4:30. The prosecuting attorney questioned us for a while.....and it was suddenly 4:30. We got a small break, and then the defense attorney started to grill us. I thought I'd get out of the case by some comments I made, but lo and behold, at 5:50, I got put on the jury.

I was not a happy camper that evening. I had things to do for Christmas, I'd be missing work at a time when I was most needed. I had to go in 8:30 Wednesday morning to begin the case, and I knew that I would be missing work for Thursday.

Wednesday morning, I met my six other jurors and it really wasn't so bad. I knew two of them, and had basically heard of the rest of the jurors (small towns :) We were in the court room by 9am. The case was a domestic violence one that involved alcohol. It became very interesting to watch the witnesses on the stand and compare them to the police officer on the stand, and just how much more professional he was, due to having been trained on testifying.

Of course, the case was nothing like you see dramatized. It was very calm, very professional. I did find the guilt tripping from the defense attorney to be unnecessary.

Both sides had conflicting stories and I found it to be very frustrating to figure out which side to believe. We were sent home around 1pm for the day.

Thursday morning, it was back to 8:30. Jury duty results in a lot of waiting. We were sent back to our room countless times on Wednesday so that witnesses could "refresh" their memories with audio from the night of the incident that we weren't privy to. We finally got to listen to a clip on Thursday, but I thought it was annoying how much time we wasted the two days.

We did not get started until almost 10am Thursday. At 11:30, we went for lunch, and we were given two hours. I went to work for that two hours. It was a good thing too, because it was pretty busy. I left before 1:30, and I got to the courthouse only to be told to come back at 2:30. So I ran back to work, and it was a good thing that I was there, again. I ran around like crazy for a half hour, and then I decided to head back at around 2 so I would be ready. It was 3pm when we finally got called back in. So a 3.5 hour lunch break...

The next 45 minutes was filled with the lawyer's closing arguments, and by the end, I finally had an opinion on how I wanted to decide the case.

The last step before deliberation was the alternate selection. And it was randomly me!! I  was able to leave a little before 4pm, and I was happy to, because the sunset was glowing pink outside :) I drove the beach, without hardly any winter gear that was necessary and took some shots. I then went back to work (where it was busy yet again) and worked until closing.

So, in a messed up way, I still got in several hours at work despite spending half the day at the courthouse.

I am not aware of what the official decision was on the case, or how long deliberations took. I've heard a rumor of how it ended, but nothing concrete.

I was frustrated at the amount of time wasted in the whole process. We could have been done in a day if everything went according to schedule. I found the whole process interesting, but I think I'm glad I didn't have to deliberate. I was frustrated with the testimony of the witnesses and I felt that the decision could go either way. Do you send the defendant to jail over the holiday? Yea, that stinks, but shouldn't have done what occurred! On the brightside, I read several hundred pages in my book that week :)

I have yet to get my $75 for serving :P