Jury Duty: Doing my civic duty

So the inevitable happened.  I got called in for Jury Duty.  Now, this is nothing new.  Somehow, I am always the one out of my family to get called every few years.  However, this was the first time I actually got selected to be on a jury.  It was for the Federal court so that meant I had to travel to downtown NYC almost every day for 3 weeks.

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I think I have the NJ transit schedule memorized at this point.

As much as it was a pain in the butt, you couldn’t help but realize the responsibility you took on as a member of a jury.  The case I was assigned to was criminal so you had someone’s life in your hands.  It was a weighty thought.  I have to say though, my fellow jurors made what was an “unpleasant” experience “pleasant”.  We came from all walks of life, different backgrounds, interests, and ages.  It made for lively conversation during our breaks.

I don’t think I really need to get into the details of the case, but I thought I would list some observations that all jurors have made while listening to court proceedings.

  1. It’s nothing like TV.  In fact, it’s so far from it, it’s a joke.  Those closing statements that lawyers make on Law and Order that are like 2 seconds? Yea, try 1 hour for EACH lawyer.
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  2. There are times you are going to get bored as all hell.  Lawyers have a tendency to KEEP REPEATING THE SAME QUESTIONS IN VARIOUS WAYS until they get the answer they want.  When that happens you doodle.  You doodle everything from your fellow juror’s sneaker to the pattern on the lamps in the courtroom.
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  3. Similar to the above observation, you tend to notice everything in that courtroom.  How the lawyers react to certain questions to odd quirks they do such as speaking to themselves before questioning a witness.  NOTHING escapes your notice because at that point you’re dying for any kind of stimulus.
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  4. You might fall asleep.  It happened to a few of the jurors and whoever was nearest would kindly nudge them.  Hey, it’s a long day.  People are trying to catch up on work when they get home and many of us were functioning with little to no sleep.  So when the same thing occurs in the court, you tend to dose off…
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  5. You really like it when somebody objects because it livens up the courtroom debate and in turn keeps you awake.
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  6. Sometimes the witnesses can be more entertaining than anything else going on.  Depending on their response to a question, you learn to suspect how the lawyer or judge might react and it just leaves for an enjoyable diversion.
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Overall my experience was really interesting.  I now watch all those court room TV dramas with a whole new eye.  I never thought I’d be picked to be on a jury, but there ya go!  Next time I get called in for Jury Duty, I’ll definitely be entering it with a whole new eye.  At the end of the day, it’s a privilege and a great responsibility and should be treated thus.  Just make sure you bring some coffee with you and Sudoku or crossword puzzles for breaks.

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