or...There's got to be a better way to spend eight hours.
About six weeks ago, I got a summons in the mail for jury duty.
This was about the fourth summons I have received in about as many years.
It seems that everytime I get jury duty, I call the day before I'm scheduled to appear and my group doesn't have to go downtown.
Except this last time.
I had to appear at 9:15 (am--like, in the morning!), in downtown Phoenix. I used to work in downtown Phoenix, so it's not like I don't know what to expect in driving down there. What I don't remember, is what time I have to leave to be there in time to be on time. All I knew was that it had to be early. And I don't do early.
I managed to make it in time, with time to spare, in fact. I was not happy, however. It was dark, and early, and cold, and early.
I took a book to read since I knew I'd have some time to kill. I ended up reading about half of my book, which was good for me. I'm not a reader. Ask anyone in my bookclub. And yes, it's pretty silly to be a non-reader in a bookclub of readers.
I was called in the third group of people to go to a courtroom. I was juror number 38. I kept thinking that it would be easy to remember my number, since it was my age. Except it isn't my age. I sort of forget my age, which is sorta crazy. (Not that I forget my age, but that I am the age that I am....I don't know where the last 20-ish years went).
There were sixty of us. It is rather interesting to people watch the jury duty process. There are some real weirdos that show up:
There was the unemployed guy who had to be "not-quite-right." He was too excited to be there. I guess the $0.44 per mile for the trip was the most money he was going to make in a long time. He was overly chatty to whoever was near him. He waved at the attorneys and police officer when we had to look at them to determine whether we knew them.
There was the older lady who related her life experiences in the 1970s when we were asked questions about whether we knew people in law enforcement.
There were ALL the people who answered they had been victims of crimes because their cars were vandalized a dozen years ago.
We got to the courtroom about 11:00 and broke for a two hour lunch from 12 to 2. The judge had asked us a bunch of questions and there were so many people who wanted to speak about their experiences in private, we got an extra hour for lunch. When we met back at 2, the people who had met in private informed the rest of us that private meant the judge, the clerk, the bailiff, the court reporter, the two prosecutors, the police officer, the defense attorney, the defendant, the two sheriff's office deputies guarding the defendant, and the person requesting to speak in "private."
From 2 to 3, the judge asked some more questions and then excused us for about 45 minutes. Upon our return, the jury was selected. I, fortunately, was not selected to serve on the jury. The trial was expected to last 2 weeks and the defendant was charged with kidnapping, rape, and felonious possession of a weapon. I don't think I could stand to listen to the testimony for two weeks.
But here are the good things I learned:
When the attorneys "approach" the bench, the judge turns on a white noise machine that is piped into the courtroom via speakers directly above the jury. I always wondered how they could talk without everyone hearing it. It's just something they don't explain well on Law & Order.
The carnitas at the courthouse's cafeteria are really good. I would take another trip down there for the carnitas alone.
The security measures made me laugh. I walked through a metal detector and then was "wanded," front and back. I then had to lift my pant legs high enough for the security officer to see my ankles. Because I wouldn't think to put a weapon around my calves.
It gets DANG cold in the courthouse. Either that or I get cold easily. Ok. I get cold easily. But that is nothing new.
I'm going to do my best to stay on THIS side of the law. The other side doesn't look as fun.