Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jury Duty. Part 1: Death and Karma

Jury Duty is something that every American comes across and must deal with at some point in their lives. Much like death. And, much like death, there is really no good time for Jury Duty. Alos, much like death, you can’t predict when it will come around.

I, like pretty much everyone I’ve ever met, was not at all happy when I got the summons. So, I This way, I rationalized, I was able to get everything set so if I had to go in, it wouldn’t be too destructive. After calling in Saturday to see if I had to report Monday and discovering that I didn’t have to go to court, I thought I was in the clear. I was wrong.

Monday night, prior to a movie night outing with Jason, I called in. “You are required to report to Stanley Mask Courthouse at 7:30 a.m.” NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Even though I had warned my job this might happen, it didn't make it any easier for them. Or me.

So at promptly 7:45 a.m., I walked into the Jurors Assembly Room to a woman explaining how to fill out the 8 questions needed in order to determine our eligibility and ability to be a juror. At promptly 8 a.m., I was falling asleep. On the plus side, I had come prepared with not 1 but 2 books.

During the two hours I was sitting around, I thought a lot about why Jury Duty sucks. First of all, you have to make arrangements with your work just in case you get called in. So, the whole time you’re doing it, it’s a big “IF” hanging over your head. “If” I get called in…”If” I get put on a trial…”If” I lie to try to get out of it and end up in jail for perjury…

Secondly, you get paid less than minimum wage for a system that your tax dollars are funding. If my tax dollars are going in toward this, then why am I not being compensated at least what I would be getting paid if I worked in one of the sweatshops a few blocks away.

Third, the whole process is completely screwed up. It is not a “jury of your peers” if you really think about it. (Now, this is going to sound racist, elitist, and every other “ist” that cause the politically correct to cringe, so I apologize ahead of time.) A jury of my peers would be naturally born Caucasian citizens with college degrees, two married parents, and an open, unbiased mind.

The longer I sat there, however, the more I thought about how I would feel if I were on trial and needed a jury. I would want people just like me on the jury. Not necessarily white and educated, but intelligent and open-minded. I woul”d want 12 “peers who could listen to both sides and see the evidence and make logical, informed, unemotional decisions based on that. I would also want people who understood that while this system is not beneficial in any way towards the jurors, it does allow every person in the US to get an opportunity to be part of the justice system, whether it’s actually serving on a trial or just making that phone call every night until dismissed.

I did get put on a trial and am currently serving. While I may complain about what a pain it is to get downtown and how the days are long and boring and how much money I’m losing by being out of work for 8-10 business days, I am glad I’m doing this. Mainly because my jury karma will be good so hopefully, much like death, I'll only have to go through it once.

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