I went to Federal Jury Duty for the first time today.
Let me start over….
I went to Jury Duty for the first time today. In my nearly 32 years of life I have never once served on Jury Duty, and my first service on said duty just so happens to be Federal Jury Duty, which neither my wife nor any of my family has ever served on. Needless to say I didn’t quite know what to expect when I went in.
All in all, it wasn’t all that bad. When I got my first summons, it was for a courthouse over 70 miles away, and I just couldn’t imagine what that was going to do to my life. Even worse, it happened only a month and a half after I got my new job – I had been unemployed for over 2 years you see, so I was rather upset that something was coming along that could potentially threaten that. Fortunately, I was able to not only postpone that service for a few months but also move it to a closer location.
I think the hardest part was finding the place (actually, the hardest part was not being able to bring any knitting with me) It was in an unfamiliar location, obviously, so after an hour subway ride and several block walk I still had to locate both the building and the entrance to the building. I picked wrong.
Of course, it wasn’t a big deal. I had plenty of leeway time and quickly found my destination and got on what was a surprisingly short line. After getting through security I was quite shocked when I suddenly realized my wedding ring wasn’t in with the rest of the crap I put into the x-ray scanner. I had to stop the line and talk to the security personnel who had to search for the ring and berate me for taking it off in the first place (How was I supposed to know? They told me to remove all metal!). Then I found it, in my pocket. It had gotten tangled in with my keys. I got a pretty good ribbing for that.
That actually set the atmosphere for the rest of the day – light hearted and relaxed. I got up to the jury duty room and quickly found a seat – not uncomfortable at all, both with cushioning and leg room. Then I sat and read (would’ve rather knit instead, but you can’t have everything) while I waited for my name to be called. The jury-professional-lady-who-tells-jurors-what-to-do-and-whose-actual-title-I-can’t-remember was really laid back about it all and really helped ease the tension. I dodged both the first case and the grand jury (whew!) but got called for the third case (I think I was the second to last called). So, I went up and waited outside the courtroom with the rest of the potential jurors.
It wasn’t a long wait, and when I finally went in I was at first overcome by the gravity of it all. Here before me was a real courtroom with a real judge and real lawyers and real jury box deciding a real case. It’s really grand when you think about it all – it almost makes one want to serve on a case simply because it just feels so important. It wouldn’t have mattered, though. The case dealt with patents and internet and online marketing and technology and video games. I have a wife who works in online marketing for a publishing company, a father who’s worked as a computer programmer in the air force and as a network engineer, and I have strong feelings about the video game industry and, more importantly, copyright (which is a very big deal to me considering I’m a knitwear designer). I never got the chance to explain all that, though. The judge, who had a very good sense of humor, was somehow able to fill all the jury seats well before I would have been selected.
After that, I went back down to the jury room and, soon after, was told to go home, giving me a few extra hours to go home (still couldn’t knit on the subway, though), take care of things, and write this blog post. So, all in all, not a bad first experience I’d say. I’m not particularly looking forward to the next time I go in, if I have to go in, but at least I know just going isn’t the worst thing in the world. Of course, I might change my mind if I get seated on a case, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.