This has turned out to be one of those weeks where I feel like I’ve barely made it through in one piece. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was still kinda rough. I had jury duty this week. I thought that might be kinda fun and interesting, but now I’m regretting not just finding a way to dodge it. In and of itself, it was perfectly fine, but I picked up a cold or something there, and I’m still getting over it.
I thought it might be fun to write up a few notes on how jury duty worked out. The process was kind of interesting. It started with a Zoom orientation session last Friday. That lasted about two hours. There were about 300 people in the session. It mostly consisted of watching this video. So that wasn’t too bad, though there’s no reason why they couldn’t have just emailed us a link to the video and a few notes and skipped the whole Zoom thing.
Then, I had to show up at the courthouse on Monday, at 8 AM. That’s not a big deal for me, since I live just a few blocks from the courthouse. And I was actually looking forward to seeing the inside of that building, since I’ve lived here for so long and never had a reason to go inside.
The jury assembly room is inside an old church that was built in 1898. It’s pretty cool. We spent an hour or two sitting around in that room. They showed us another video there, this time on bias. I think that’s something they started doing about a year ago. And I think there were about 75 people called to come in that day. (And, of course, I can’t stop wondering why they showed us one video over Zoom and the other video in person. Why not both on Zoom? Or both in-person? Or just email us the links and let us watch at home?)
Some time between 9 and 10, they starting taking people up to the courtroom, which was on the fifth floor of the courthouse. (This is the newer, modern, courthouse, and not the nifty historic courthouse that was built in 1907. So I still haven’t been inside that building.) They took us up in groups of ten, and I think they took up maybe 40 or 50 of us, total.
In the courtroom, they had us fill out a questionnaire while they went through some preliminaries. I was a bit surprised to find out that this was a murder trial. I had assumed it would just be something fairly ordinary, like a civil suit, or a low-level criminal thing.
Then, they picked 14 people to move into the jury box. And they questioned them one by one about any “yes” answers on their questionnaire, which would all be reasons why they might not be able to serve on the jury, or things that might prevent them from being impartial. There were some conversational questions too, like “what do you like to watch on TV?” and “where do you get your news?”. It was interesting to sit through that, and listen to what everyone said.
The judge dismissed a number of people fairly quickly. Those were mostly folks with prior commitments, or where being away from work would cause a hardship for them. And there were a few folks who knew some of the police officers involved, and one who knew the prosecutor personally. Then, a bunch of people were dismissed by the prosecutor and the defense lawyer. I guess they don’t have to state their reasons aloud for those, but I think they’re supposed to have reasons for most of them. I’ll admit to wondering about why some of them were dismissed. A few were kind of obvious, but most weren’t, to me. The whole process of going through the questions, dismissing people, bringing more people up, questioning them, dismissing some of them, and then bringing up more people took quite a while. It was long enough that we had to take a lunch break and come back. They finally had a full jury at 2:30 PM, and dismissed the rest of us.
Overall, initially, I was glad I got called in, and glad I got called up to the courtroom to see how the process worked. It was all pretty interesting, and everyone involved was professional and courteous.
Later, though, I kind of wish I’d found a way out of it. I got pretty sick on Wednesday, and it’s obvious that I must have picked it up at the courthouse on Monday. I’m a bit mad at myself for that, since I didn’t wear a mask. I’d brought one with me, and intended on putting it on at some point, but nobody else was wearing one, and I got lulled into a false sense of security, I guess. So I had to use up two sick days this week, on Wednesday and Thursday. I worked from home yesterday, and was feeling a bit better, but I’m still not back to 100%. I guess this is only a cold, since I took two COVID tests and they both came back negative, so that’s good.
So now, I’ve missed a half a day of work last Friday, most of the day Monday, and all day Wednesday and Thursday. And I wasn’t really 100% on Friday, and didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped to. Now I’m hoping I can shake the remnants of this cold over the weekend and be ready to work a full week next week. It’s a little annoying to me how easily I can get thrown off track by something like this, but I guess it’s part of getting older. And I guess I should appreciate that I have some flexibility at work, with regard to time off and working from home. But I don’t want to push things too far there. Oh well. I guess this weekend will be spend mostly watching TV and napping.