Call schmall - mayhap I shoulda hung up

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'll admit to an avid curiousity about our judicial system from a juror standpoint. I've actually been summoned twice before, but had to ask for a deferment both times. Once was in the middle of my reconstructive surgery, and the second was the first week of my student's senior year and there were no substitutes for interpreters at the time (now I have one). Well. Suffice it to say that said curiosity has, most assuredly, been satisfied.
The first thing they do is to "call the roll". We were relocated en masse to a judge's chambers on another floor to be separated into four jury pools (one for each courtroom). While waiting for the clerk to complete the lists, we watched the morning's entertainment *cough* excuse me proceedings. A young woman standing before the judge had apparently stolen the wallet of a customer at a convenience store. He had [foolishly] laid it on the counter and moved away to point out a specific item for purchase to the store clerk. Apparently at that time, Miss Stickyfingers LaRue opted to pinch said wallet and flee the scene. When the judge asked her for a plea she said, "It was an accident, Your Honor." Wow. Really lady? That's what you're going for? An accident? The judge (who had about the same reaction I did) raised his brows and offered the video surveillance tape for her viewing pleasure. Duh. That seemed to put a different spin on it for her, and she decided perhaps she would go for a guilty plea then (gee, ya think?).
After the divvying, which took quite a while considering there were close to 400 people there, the judge dispatched several officers to "go have a chat" with those that did not show up for service (uh oh). Mostly sure said chat involved handcuffs and a free ride. Then it was off to another courtroom, followed by (I hope I hope) early dismissal for those not selected to serve that day. You know, sometimes you can kind of tell by the way the wind blows how things are going to go for you. *sigh* The attorney that spoke and asked the majority of the questions (known as voir dire) informed us that the case was a medical malpractice/wrongful death [of a fetus] suit and extremely complicated. With each question that sought to eliminate bias in the jury, I would surreptitiously glance around the room to see hands going up everywhere while mine stayed down. Oh, man. When the questions were finished, it was with a sense of impending doom that I listened to them call out the list of jurors in alphabetical order. As they filed one by one into the jury box, I felt overwhelming relief when that last seat was filled. Well ha, ha. Guess what? I forgot all about #13 (gotta have an alternate). Oh yeah, it was me doggone it. *sigh* The alternate, however, is not the last person called. Gonna be a long week.
That's exactly what it was, too. A solid week. Talk about crime and punishment. Instead of leaving work at 3, I finished at 5 with a head chock full of medical terminology, conflicting testimony, and ache (ha). It's funny how handy past experience can be. I was a legal secretary back in the day (third party defendants) and am still a professional patient so between the two, I really didn't have any trouble with the verbiage although I do remember entertaining a couple of duct tape fantasies early on. I'll be honest with you - I had to really struggle not to hold the plaintiff's attorneys against her. Talk about obnoxious! I saw more eye rolling in that courtroom in one week than I see in a month at school with a bunch of 12 year olds. Every time the defense cross-examined a witness, those two lawyers sat at their table looking at us and rolling their eyes at every other word. An embarrassment to professional women everywhere, if you ask me. Not that you did. *grin*
By Wednesday afternoon I was ready to BE done. I took copious notes interspersed with the occasional sentence in shorthand (usually along the lines of "shut up already; we get it" or "I really don't like you; obnoxious heifer"). So much of the testimony was tediously repetitious, that by week's end I was on to silly alliterations and such on the perpetual pontifications of the plaintiff's counsel:
Redefining the various and sundry forms of the verb "be" -
 belabor, beleaguer, beset, befuddle, bewilder...BE QUIET and then I swapped to the H's (because ha,ha, ha these people are making me crazed ;o) and:
harping, harangue, harass, harrumph, headache...HUSH  I'll add that I don't think the judge appreciated the conduct of plaintiff's counsel either, based on the fact that he actually had to go so far as to say, "Look at me" one time because she was off on a ranting tangent. Wow. I will add that the judge was extremely nice and informed us that he was also serving as the bailiff because, "As you well know, the state of Alabama is broke."
Well we survived the week (barely). Closing arguments wrapped up late Thursday, leaving us just enough time to elect a foreman. (and golly, you'll just never guess how that one went). *sigh* It was decided - unanimously - that we all go home and reconvene Friday morning as we were all fried. Before we dismissed, however, I asked for a quick poll to see where everybody was as far as a verdict. Split; almost right down the middle. Dandy. I am fairly sure that between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning I uttered somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,347 separate prayers for wisdom. It took almost all day long Friday, but we finally got there. Opinions were strong and tempers growing short on both sides (so enter Jen with her stupid one-liners and silly statements just to try to ease the tension). We were ultimately able, by sifting (and re-sifting) through the evidence to find in favor of the plaintiff (no thanks to their lawyers, I can tell you). It is a very surreal experience to have a judge ask you if the jury has reached a verdict (felt like I was in a movie - weird ;o) I can also tell you - with utter certainty - that I NEVER want to be a diplomat, mediator, or anything else along those lines. Ever. Now I'm really ready for some horse therapy.
Okay, I'm sure that's more than enough of me for this week. I'll sign off here, but I did want to share two photos that I thought turned out pretty cool. Looks like I wasn't the only one enjoying the morning's spectacular sunrise :o)
Have a blessed week everyone!


  1. Let me just say that I do not envy your week of jury duty. I've been called more times than I can remember and did actually serve on one jury. Mine luckily was a very easy one that was done the next day.

  2. I've only been called for jury duty one time. I wasn't picked. I think I'm very glad I wasn't picked! Ha!
    xo Catherine

  3. As much of a hassle it is to serve on a Jury (and make sure that your real job goes on smoothly in your absence) I always got a kick out of working with others and seeing how wasteful our system is. (As in wasting everyone's time!) My stints on jury duty (don't know why, but I seem to get called... a lot) left me with new energy to educate my youngun's so that they didn't turn out to be as ignorant as some of the folks I ran across in the courtroom.

  4. I actually spent an entire day in the jury picking room too. Thank God at the end I wasn't picked, I almost did a fist pump when my name was excused. Sounds like a miserable week but at least you captured some beautiful photos to put the smile back on your face.

  5. Ann: The process was interesting, just a lot to sort through for the verdict. I think I was impressed the most by the judge, who was very down to earth and just an all around nice guy (he got my vote for the next election ;o)

    Catherine: It was definitely a challenge. *grin*

    Dreaming: From the courthouse standpoint, I saw frugality to the Nth degree. I'll add that I was somewhat appalled by the excessive amounts paid to the "expert" witnesses though (who, in the end, contributed very, very little to our decision).
    I will say that I was somewhere between impressed and alarmed at some of the rabbit holes people went down during voir dire (lots of TMI goin' on there ;o)

    GreyHorse: Haha, I know exactly what you mean. I think my sigh of relief was a nanosecond too soon. *laugh* Aren't those photos wild? They came straight out of the camera too. I was trying to zoom in a little better on Mr. Birdy when he flew off (nuts).

  6. I've been called twice as has Lindsay back when Dave was working. I wrote requests to be excused for both of us because of the number of horses we have to care for. No way we could go and take care of the horses but Dave's job allows for them do be called so, of course, they have never called him.

    I have been told by a couple of prosecutors that I will never be actually used on a jury. I know too much about manipulative behavior and have the strength to educate an entire jury. Last thing a defense attorney wants to see.

    Lindsay, with her brain damage, wouldn't be chosen either so I don't feel bad begging off but believe me if I thought there was a chance I would get used, I go in a heart beat but since the way it gets done here would leave me sitting for days, I just can't do it. Meanwhile Dave keeps praying they'll call him.

    Considering the trials I have been involved in, I really feel for you. I personally wanted to figuratively, of course, strangle a defense attorney and a judge too. But the second go round I actually felt sorry for the defense attorney. With a client that was lying to her she had no chance and while the judge was not really tolerant of me as pro se, he was fair, so my second experience was good. It does make you wonder about the legal system though and if it really does work.

  7. I thought keeping up with a 2, 4, and 6 year old was exhausting. I did my own sigh of relief that it was all over, just from reading it! I had always WANTED to do jury duty...not anymore.

Your comments really brighten my day!

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