The Mom of No: Jury duty

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2017 has been a banner year of civic involvement for the Mom of No. I have been called up for jury duty not once, but twice: once for municipal court and once for the county.

The last time I was called up for jury duty, I had just delivered The Teenager. Since I knew I was going back to work before the date of my summons, I couldn’t claim the exemption of having to take care of a child. I did have a logistical question that would need to be addressed. I called the information number on the summons and explained the problem to the sweet clerk who answered the phone.

“You’ll need to do what, honey?” she asked me, sounding uncertain.

“Express breast milk,” I told her. “I’m nursing an infant. I have a pump, that’s not a problem. But I need a room with an electrical outlet, and about 20 minutes of uninterrupted time.”

“No one has ever asked me this question before,” she said, and then put me on hold. When she came back she told me not to worry about it, they’d excuse me and call me back at a later date for jury duty.

Apparently someone found out that my children are now teenagers. After 17 years, they finally got around to summoning me once again to perform my civic duty as an upstanding citizen.

“Tell them you already know the defendant is guilty,” the Grandpa of No advised me. I’m not sure if he was serious or not. A friend of mine told me that he’d been a juror on a trial for embezzlement that had lasted more than a week and involved a lot of accounting minutiae that he wasn’t sure anyone really understood. Jury duty is one of those adulting experiences in America that almost everyone seems to have a story about.

I was fine with the municipal court summons, but the date the county had assigned me was a week before we went on vacation. I had a lot of work to do, and I was going to have to drive down a perpetually under construction freeway which has acquired renown for unexpected detours, accidents and loose flying gravel cracking windshields. I was a reluctant potential juror. However, none of the exemptions applied to me so the day arrived and off I went.

I showed up at the appointed time, sat in a chair in a room with about 300 other potential jurors and waited patiently for the proceedings to begin. As part of the jury selection process, we were shown a video about the importance of jurors to the American legal system. As I watched the video, I started to feel badly about my initial reluctance. I was going to be part of a tradition going all the way back to King John of England and the Magna Carta! This was truly inspirational stuff! Being a juror is an important part of citizenship, and I was doing my part by being present in that room!

Then the video talked about the great responsibility of a juror, and how your decisions had a life impact on other people. I started to worry. Suppose I made a bad decision? If I got selected, I would potentially change the trajectory of someone’s entire life. Suppose we didn’t all agree on the verdict? What happened then? Could I put my tendency towards introversion in groups of strangers aside and speak eloquently and persuasively to my fellow jurors about what I thought?

Side note: I have been told that sometimes I have a tendency to overthink things.
Finally, the clerk came out and started calling names chosen by random selection and assigned those individuals to a court. The part of me that was inspired by the video wanted to call out, “Pick me! Pick me!” The part of me that was worried about not being able to go on vacation because I’d probably end up getting selected for the Trial of The Century wanted to run and hide.

I sat and listened intently to the clerk calling out the names of the individuals selected. It was obvious that in the jury room on that day was a huge variety of people from all kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, taking time from their daily routine to fulfill their obligations as a citizen just like I was. That thought was rather inspirational as well.

However, every time the clerk finished calling out a series of names, I was still a bit relieved that I hadn’t been called. Pick me! No, don’t pick me! I couldn’t decide what I wanted.

Finally the clerk announced that anyone who had not been called was free to go. I was done! The random name selector had not chosen me. I was a little relieved, and a little disappointed. I headed back to the freeway of vehicular destruction and made my way home safely, having performed my duty as a responsible citizen.

Read more memoirs and musings from The Mom of No at themomofno.blogspot.com.

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