Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thoughts From Jury Duty.

Jury duty is like a hospital's waiting area but with slightly less coughing. The quality of the magazines provided is similar, you're surrounded by a pretty interesting cross-section of people, there are sandwiches in a vending machine, and the basic idea is to sit tight because it's going to be awhile.

I showed up to jury duty early yesterday, hoping to make a buddy so I would have someone to talk to throughout my long day. When the guy I was sitting next to didn't say "bless you" after I sneezed, I figured I wouldn't waste my banter on him. A woman sitting across from me looked familiar so I told her so, but she quickly dismissed it by saying she didn't recognize me. I gave up. I decided to lone wolf it through my day at the courthouse.

After filling out surveys and hearing a speech about what we were doing there, a video was played for the large room of potential jurors to watch. The opening closed caption sound effect read [Thunder. Lightning.] followed by a scene of people dressed like druid warriors chasing each other through the woods.

I took a deep breath and got up to use the restroom. While I was slightly interested to see how the filmmakers would segue from this opening scene to a modern day jury of our peers, I just couldn't do it.

By the time I came back from the restroom, Ed Bradley and Diane Sawyer were discussing the history of juries. I noticed that most people in the room were watching the video while breathing through their mouths. As I looked to the screen, I decided that this experience would be 300 times more enjoyable if I had a free donut to eat. (Note to local governments: Consider this.)

A man sitting a few tables away from me was reading a Glenn Beck book. Was he serious or just trying to get out of being selected?

Diane Sawyer explained the roles of the people in a courtroom. The shot of the court reporter was particularly hilarious; just banging on the little typewriter as fast as he could. He was clearly an actor, not a court reporter, and wasn't even trying to pretend that he knew how to type. I imagined him saying, "La La La!" as he quickly hit the keys.

A scene in the video showing the attorneys included a sidebar. I imagined myself on a jury during a sidebar exclaiming, "Need I remind you, Your Honor, secrets don't make friends. They break them." And then the entire courtroom would cheer. And the guy sitting next to me would say, "bless you" even though I hadn't sneezed.

Another closed caption read [Banging the gavel].
It could have also read [Hanging a picture] or [Someone's at the door].

The video also included juror testimonials:
-When I received my summons I said, "Why me?"
-My heart sank when I found out I had to come here.
-Jury duty is a pain in the you know what.

I wished all of these people had been played by the druid characters.

Diane Sawyer reminded us of the importance of jury duty and said, "You're not just sitting around."

Seven hours later, after just sitting around, we were dismissed.