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So…Jury Duty

I’m home from jury duty…and don’t have to go back. Yay.

As I expected, in fact more than I expected, getting to Chicago this early in the morning was a hassle. The local train station is only a few miles from my house, but I got stuck in traffic, which made me late. Since I’m not a morning person I had planned ahead by going to the station yesterday and buying my tickets. I also asked about parking. "Park in outer Mongolia, walk to the pay station in inner Mongolia and pay a dollar for parking…then walk the rest of the way to the station." Great…everything was all set, except they didn’t tell me I had to pay for parking with quarters! So there I was late arriving at the parking pay station in inner Mongolia and a pocket empty of quarters. By the time I got back to the car for quarters, I’d missed my train. I debated driving downtown, which, depending on the traffic, might make me late for jury duty, or waiting twenty minutes for the next train, which would definitely make me a little late to jury duty. I decided to wait for the next train. Off to a grand start.

I put the rest in the extended entry, so you can read at your own risk. ;-)

I eventually got to the jury room in the Daley Center and nobody seemed to care that I was late, in fact lots of people came in after me. (Not that I recommend arriving late!) We were told which side of the room we had to sit on and I noticed the other
side of the room emptied out very quickly. I don’t know if they got sent home…a reward for arriving early on a day when fewer jurors were needed…or if they’d gone to courtrooms. Eventually some of them trickled back, but not a lot, so I think some went home and some went off to courtrooms. Once that side emptied, they came over to us and showed a video of what to expect. At 11:00 A.M., two and a half hours after I got there, they started calling jury panels from our side of the room.

At 11:30′ish, my panel was called and sent to a courtroom. The deputy sheriff was in high spirits and told us this was Judge ABC’s room and was numbered ####. "Cases in this court tend to last 7 to 9 months. Nah, I’m just kidding. Wanted to make sure you were listening. Our cases only last a day or two." Then the judge and the lawyers arrived and the judge started talking and talking and talking. She explained in detail and too much technicality the difference between civil and criminal cases. She explained this was a case in which the plaintiff’s insurance company was subrogating for the plaintiff against
the defendant to get their money back from an automobile accident. She attempted to explain what subrogation is, but failed. She explained that if we found the defendant guilty, we had to decide what percentage of the accident was his fault, because if he was less than 50% responsible, he didn’t have to pay; if he was more than 50% responsible, he’d have to pay based on the percent responsible. She went on and on, assuring us this would all be repeated, but she wanted us to understand before jury selection began. I think she blew it with the layers of detail and that most of the group eventually stopped listening. Just like nobody’s reading this post any more.

Then they called twelve potential jurists and two alternates up to the jury box and started questioning them. Had any of them or anyone close to them been involved in a lawsuit? Had any of them or anyone close to them ever been in a car accident? Had any of them or anyone close to them ever filed a claim or had a claim filed against them? As you might imagine, almost everyone had to answer yes to the last two questions and were expected to explain everything and evaluate whether these past experiences would impair their ability to be fair and unbiased in this case. Then the judge asked each person a series of questions including what work they do, what work their adult family members do, had they ever been on a jury before, could they be fair, etc. One fool made it very clear he wasn’t going to be fair, but the rest were trying their best to be honest. Then the attorneys got to ask questions. The defense attorney wanted to know if they would all
be able to separate their reactions to him during the trial and their fair judgment of the defendant. One of his questions made the judge re-explain, and again over detail, her definition of subrogation.

Do you feel my pain? Finally, the judge and lawyers left the room to decide which jurists to keep and how many more to question. It was after 1:00 and we had not been allowed to eat, and the natives were
getting restless. Cell phones popped out, off we went to the bathrooms, and we started complaining about not getting to eat. I was nervous that jury selection was going to take forever and whoever was selected would have to come back the next day. I was also pretty sure that I was going to be dismissed since I’ve written training course for an insurance company’s claim and subrogation divisions. Finally, around 1:30 the judge returned and said a jury had been selected. She listed a handful of names and had those people take the oath…then she announced that we were probably used to seeing 12 jurists per trial, but they had decided to go with 6 plus one alternative. She thanked the rest of us and sent us back to the jury room, from there we were given our whopping $17.20 checks and allowed to leave.

I’m glad to be home and finished, but under different circumstances, this might have been an interesting trial to hear…short, interesting, and a way to see what goes on. I was never questioned; I would have been honest and not a jerk like the one fool mentioned above, but I think I would have been dismissed because of my work experience. There wasn’t a train home for another hour, so I walked to the station and then sat outside by the Chicago River eating my lunch. It was just a smidge too cold for this, but I enjoyed it any way. I got home about 3:40…almost 9 hours after I’d left. I read a lot, but tomorrow I’m ready for a movie or something…no work, just some personal time for relaxing, not jury duty. ;-) We’ll see what happens. (Saturday is going to be taken up with proofing income tax returns for myself and others. Joy.)

This is way too long, like the day was for accomplishing nothing, and I’m too tired to proof this, but it’s here for prosperity. Tomorrow I’ll try to post a few pictures I took with my cellphone after leaving the court house.

2 comments to So…Jury Duty

  • coolness. I was last up for jury duty when I was doing my honours year at uni. We had to write letters both times asking to be excused because I wouldn’t have been able to complete my honours year otherwise.
    Previously while I was also a student they called me up, but for one reason or another cases either got dropped or I wasn’t needed as of the day before. So I’ve never actually done it. It’d be kinda cool to do, so long as it didn’t go for too long :)

  • This was the third time I was called as a jurists and had to go, but I’ve never been on a trial. Once they transferred us to traffic court, but I was dismissed after the interview. The other time was a few weeks before Christmas and they didn’t call for any juries…so everyone eventually went home. Come to think of it, I sure get called a lot! Need to move to another county!

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