Yesterday I had my first experience with jury duty. Well, almost.
Several months ago I got a friendly questionaire from the US District Court. Mostly it asked me about my job, how close I lived to the nearest court house (about ten miles) and a few other boring questions. Maybe a month ago I got a little packet that my time to serve had finally arrived. A lot of people do whatever they can to avoid jury duty. But I was (and still am) looking forward to participating. I had dreams of Twelve Angry Men level events in my head, or at least events as dramatic as the episode of Andy Griffith where Aunt Bea has to decide if Jack Nicholson stole a t.v. set or not.
They send you all kinds of rules before you get there. They tell you what to wear (dark-colored business suits) and give you a list of things you can't bring with you: cell phones, cameras, pda's, magazines, newspapers, books, and so on. You can't even bring pen/pencil and paper to take notes. They don't want anything to distract you at all from the trial, I guess.
I got to the court a little early, which was good because I witnessed another potential juror get turned away for showing up in flip-flops and sweat pants. After signing in, I was directed into a room with rows and rows of chairs and told to wait. I would be called by my official juror number if/when they needed to speak to me.
It wasn't exactly the most diverse room. With a couple of exceptions, they were all white, and probably 2/3 were male. Nearly everyone was complaining about having to be there. The most entertaining/annoying guy was the man I dubbed The Pacer. The Pacer was probably in his mid-forties, tall and slender and his hair just starting to enter those changes from black to gray. The whole time I was there he walked back and forth, back and forth, often touching his fingers to his lips as he paced. I'm pretty sure if they allowed smoking in Federal buildings he would have been, and he probably would have sucked down a whole pack in no time. Every few minutes he would mutter something about not having his Blackberry.
From time to time some court official would come in, call out a number and take a juror away. Sometimes the juror came back, sometimes they didn't. The whole time I was there, I kept thinking about Schrödinger's cat. That poor cat put in a steel box, waiting for someone to open up the lid so it would know if it was alive or dead. Would I get to take part in a trial, or would they send me home?
I sat there about an hour and half until my number was finally called. They pulled me into a smaller room and I sat down with a man who said he was a lawyer. He asked me questions about finance law, whether or not I invest in the stock market, and what I felt about insider trading. I was sent back, and waited for another hour. When my number was called again, they told me to go home and call back on Friday to see if they wanted me to come in next week.
So I'm a cat, still waiting in that box for someone to tell me my fate. We'll see what happens on Friday.