Saturday, May 23, 2015
Jury Duty, Part 2
Jury duty was, as I expected, heck. The slickest part was taking the bus. You get a bus ticket with your jury summons, so the fare is covered. I parked at my church parking lot, which the county uses as a park and ride, and went out to the side of the highway to wait. Lo and behold, up pulls a bus driven by Larry Flynn. He stopped so the door was right smack dab in front of me and all I had to do was step up. I’ve always liked Larry. Transferred to the Express bus going on to the boat and that took me right to the front door of the King County Courthouse, where I got in line for security screening. Put my bag in the tray and sent it through the scanner, walked through the gateway and then was informed that my cane was a weapon, and it had to go through the scanner, also. Having collected bag and weapon, I ambled off to the jury assembly room. It’s the size of a school gymnasium, and packed from one end to the other with comfy padded chairs, mostly filled by people who wish they weren’t there. At eight a.m. an orientation video is shown. This is the most exciting thing that happens all day if you aren’t called to be on a jury. This video talks about the Constitution, and how the jury is part of our process to ensure fair and impartial justice for all. It really said that. “Fair and impartial justice for all.” The video stresses the importance of not talking to anyone about your trial, and shows a woman ratting out a witness who tried to talk to her. Same woman is shown at home refusing to talk about the trial to her children. You are supposed to follow her example, but I thought she was a bit of a prig. After the video the person in charge of the room and the selection process gets up and thanks you for coming, acknowledges that pretty much no one wants to be there and that you are sacrificing time from your regular life in order to do your civic duty. She says several times that if you don’t get picked for a jury, don’t take it personally. You have no idea why someone would or would not want you on the jury. It’s not personal. Like in The Godfather: “It isn’t personal, it’s business.” She said we were not allowed to look up information online about anyone or anything involved in the trial, or talk about the trial online. This is a relatively recent problem, but a big one. A juror researching or talking about a case online can derail a trial that has been years in the making. I was not called for a jury the first day. I did nothing for six and a half hours, and was not a happy potential juror. Once released I learned how to catch the C line bus back to the ferry. Bus service between downtown and the ferry dock has improved immensely in the last thirty-five years. It still takes just as long to get home, though. The second day I was an old hand, and I took my Kindle for entertainment. Was called in the afternoon to be considered as a juror for a case and was quickly determined not to be the juror they were looking for. I realize that I am too much of a smart aleck to be a good juror. There is no comedy in a courtroom. There have been courtroom comedies on television, but there is no intentional comedy in a real courtroom, only the unintentional sort, like the lawyer who said that one of his client’s children had died, and then went on to say that falling off the defendant’s porch was the worst thing that had ever happened in the plaintiff’s entire life. I thought that if falling off a porch was worse than losing a child, the plaintiff needed a lot more help than the court could give her. That sort of thought is what makes me unsuitable to be a juror. You’re supposed to pay attention and deliberate rationally as a juror. You’re not supposed to laugh out loud when you hear something that is nonsense. You’re not supposed to say out loud, “She’s lying!” when a witness is talking, even if you’re certain she is. You’re supposed to take it all seriously, and keep your mouth shut until the jury goes out to deliberate. Oh, and you’re not supposed to doze off in the jury box. They really don’t like that. But I didn’t take it personally.