I got a summons for jury duty about a month ago. I've had summons before, but have never had to go in. So on Monday night I called in and found that my luck had run out. They were calling in a lot of people and my number was in the range that was being asked to come in. So on Tuesday morning I got the kids off to school and then Kenny dropped me off at the courthouse.
The day started in the jury assembly room...
It's in the basement of the courthouse and was filled with chairs. We waited there while everyone gathered, watched a video about being on a jury, then got an idea of how the day would go. It's a lot of waiting. Finally they called from a courtroom and the judge was asking for 32 potential jurors. They randomly choose 32 numbers, and mine happened to be one of them. Then there was more waiting. Someone finally came to get us, and we were escorted up to the courtroom.
They let us know that the trial was expected to go on for the rest of the week, hopefully wrapping up on Friday. If they didn't finish on Friday they would carry it over to Thursday of the following week. They asked if anyone had any conflicts, and a few people were dismissed after that. Then they randomly called 12 people up to the jury box and they were questioned by the lawyers (I didn't know it at the time, but the plaintiff and defendents were also there). They asked questions of the group first, and then went back one by one to ask more questions of each person. They weeded out a few more people through this process and then would randomly choose another number from the remaining people. I was one of the last few chosen, and I never got weeded out. As I was sitting in one of the jury chairs I heard the judge say, "We have a jury".
And just like that I was chosen for my very first jury! I had mixed feelings about this...I've always been interested in the law and all of the processes and procedures that go along with it, but I was also a bit stressed about missing 4 days of work and not being able to get Ellie from school. Kenny pointed out that I'd been particularly stressed about work, and encouraged me to look at this as an opportunity to take a break from it. Once I had some time to get used to the idea, it didn't seem all that bad. We had lunch and then heard opening statements and the beginning of testimony on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the jurors gathered in the jury assembly room at 9:15, and we were escorted to our jury meeting room outside of the courtroom. We all had to go through security together and we were always escorted there. The jury room was pretty tiny for the 14 of us (there were 12 jurors and 2 alternates) but there were some windows we could open to the outside....
The weather was so sunny and pretty every day - it was hard to be inside from 9-5 each day. They did let us have a little over an hour for lunch each day, so I soaked up a little bit of sun for parts of that. I also tried to do some work during our breaks, answering emails and working on a report for next week.
On Thursday testimony and presentation of evidence was completed and we got to leave a little early. On Friday morning we heard closing statemnets, and then it was turned over to us at lunch time.
We had a little lunch and then got to work coming up with a verdict. Being the "control enthusiast" that I am, I somehow managed to get myself into the role of jury foreman. After all, getting people to come to a decision based on criteria we've been given is something I do all the time at work! We each got to talk a little about what our impressions were (we hadn't been allowed to talk about any of the trial to each other all week) and then we started in on the questions we were asked to answer. Within an hour we were back in the courtroom and delivering our verdict. VERY exciting stuff.
Watching reactions and how people responded was interesting to me throughout the entire trial and watching everyone hear the verdict was pretty intense. All in all it was a really good experience, but I was happy to be done a little early on Friday afternoon and get out to enjoy the beautiful fall day.
On to a whole weekend that promises to look just as pretty as this!