My Dutiful Day

13 Jan

Today, the day after the BIGGEST STORM OF THE YEAR, I had jury duty.  I had postponed it from September, when BAC had gone through a re-org and I didn’t think they could survive a day without me, so I had to suck it up and go.  I called the hotline last night, and was told I had to come in.  Bummer.

Here’s how my day went:

6:15 am: roll out of bed, cranky beyond belief

7:00: scrape the ice off the car, head to Honey Dew.  Why not use my fancy new Keurig?  Because we are the only people in New England who run out of milk before a blizzard (and the two month old egg nog creamer was more than questionable)

7:30: am blinded by the sun radiating off the snow on 195 East.  Did I mention I was summoned to jury duty 45 minutes away?  And that my GPS does not recognize 195 East and thinks I’m in the river?  Awesome.

7:50: enter New Bedford, which apparently has no plow budget.  The side roads are awful, and I am lost, sliding every time I turn in my trusty Mitsubishi Gallant.

8:00: see the courthouse, see no parking.  Drive around more bad side roads, dodging plows and snow banks.  Can’t find a lot, on street parking is out of the question.

8:15: consult my handy 2″ x 2″ MA Jury map, and locate the miniscule “P” for parking.  Should have checked that sooner, I guess.

8:30: finally find a garage, which is incredibly icy inside.  Walk 1/2 mile, UPHILL, IN THE SNOW, to courthouse.

8:40: now 40 minutes late for jury duty, set off metal detector, get handed #4o, no time to sit before we’re called down to courthouse

8:45: sweating profusely, watch video I clearly remember from 3 years ago.  Again annoyed by lawyer on video who thinks hooking his thumbs in his vest and putting on his glasses before he speaks makes him cooler than his feathered hair lady lawyer counterpart

9:10: back in jury room, with my iPod and Mockingjay.  Thinking about how the judge said they only need 3 more jurors.  There’s no way #40 can be called and sat, right?

9:30: back to courtroom.  Case is introduced.  It’s a malpractice suit and the plaintiff is a woman with breast cancer who feels her doctors were negligent in their diagnosis and should have caught it earlier.  The trial will last 9-14 days.  The questions start.  I hold up my card when asked if a family member had cancer.  I can see why this trial was hard to find a jury for.

9:45: jury selection begins.  Sidebars for almost everyone.

10:00: yay, we have a jury!

10:02: nope.  You two, out.  More sidebars.

10:20: yay, we have a jury!

10:22: nope.

(later, rinse, repeat)

10:45: Okay, now we have a jury.  For real.  Phew.  The judge asks if anyone on the jury feels they weren’t heard before being sat.  Juror #6 raises his hand.  Sidebar.  Juror #6 is out.

10:50: More sidebars.  We’re now on #35.  I am not happy with Juror #6 for messing up my day.  I’m secretly willing #35-39 to take one for the team (me) and sit on the jury.

11:00: No such luck.  #40 is called, and I approach the sidebar.

The sidebar is intimidating.  Six lawyers, the judge, a clerk, a stenographer (repeating what I say into a little microphone thing), and a judge-in-training, all staring at me.  The judge very nicely asks me about why I held up my card, and I explain that my grandfather died of lung cancer, and my grandmother had breast cancer and bladder cancer.  I’m honest when I say I don’t remember her breast cancer treatment, since I was young.  He then asks if I feel the trial may be emotional for me because of my connection to the disease, and I am released when I say yes.

I’m very happy to be released.  While I understand its my civic duty, and I would never, ever lie or skip out on jury duty, I’m happy to not have to report to court every day for two weeks.  Court is only in session half days for most of those days, so I would probably work after.  In 2007, I sat on a jury for 6 days, and worked after, while tapering for the marathon.  It was stressful, to say the least.

Also, while I think this case would have been far more interesting than the last one (a subrogation case involving a machine fire), I really do think it would have been too emotional for me.  In all fairness, Hallmark commercials are often too emotional for me.  And don’t get me started on those Christmas Folgers commercials.  But I really don’t know how or if I could make a decision that would not give a cancer patient money she may deserve, or may cost a doctor her reputation.  I think I’d have a hard time taking the emotion out of it and just looking at the facts of the case.  I would have done it if I had to, but I know it would have been hard.

Even though I grumbled and complaining about having jury duty, I truly do think its a good system, and I’m happy the US has it.  I’m also happy I don’t have to do it again for at least another three years.

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One Response to “My Dutiful Day”

  1. Lydia January 14, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    I think that would be a very emotional case for many people. I can, too, see why it would be hard to compose a fair-minded jury.

    I’ve never been called for jury duty. I’m sort of disappointed about it. I think it would be interesting.

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