In 2018, the government finally caught me. I was assigned to jury duty for the first time. This is what donating to charity will do. It puts you on their radar. This is the last time I throw nickels into the Ronald McDonald House jar. Somehow, they seem to have scrubbed my fingerprints from that useless change and added me into their jury duty database.
You never know how big of a pain in the ass jury duty is until you’re assigned to it. We can all admire the John Cusack movies about juries running away forever, but when the day you’re picked comes you suddenly want to see that boombox crash on his head at the climax of Say Anything.
The big issue I faced with my jury duty was how much of a waste of time it was for me. Although it was easily accessible by train, the $5 check they sent me afterward for my duty didn’t cover transportation cost. For those who drove, I can only imagine the pain their wallets felt.
The jury duty process involved arriving by 8:30am and then watching as others came in up to an hour later without repercussion. Shouldn’t they be reprimanded in a courthouse? I mean, there are judges to judge them and police to police them right there under the same roof. Let’s hand out some punishment.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize jury duty involved sitting around for two hours playing on a laptop. Others were wise enough to bring theirs with them for entertainment. I was stuck watching an ugly woman and a gay man bicker on the HGTV show playing in the waiting room.
I would estimate about 200 people were selected for jury duty on the same day as I. At the start of the day, they had 11 cases they needed to fill. One-by-one, they assigned us to a room. More than half of us were delegated to a murder trial that I’m not privy to discuss because for some reason. Or maybe I can. I don’t know the rules. You think I was paying attention?
While in the actual courtroom, the two attorneys sat with the defendant. He had a murderous vibe. I definitely thought he was guilty and made sure to express that in the form they asked us to fill out. Like everyone else, I wanted to get out of this garbage.
You see, jury duty is a flawed system. You’re asking people to step away from their lives to make an important decision. Of course we’re going to go with the majority. We want to get back to our unfulfilling jobs and whiny family. We don’t want to spend our Wednesdays with strangers deciding the fate of a man. We want to have our jobs threatened by underachieving supervisors. We want to sit at our cubicles holding in a fart.
If I was in charge, I would allow people to select which days they would like to actually do jury duty. I came up with a whole system as the judge and attorneys briefly interviewed the potential jurors one-by-one. It would involve a form we all fill out at the beginning of each year, selecting two consecutive days each month when we would be available. As needed, we’d get picked. With everyone involved in this process, surely, they could fill up for most cases.
I know it’s not the best system, but it’s better than what we have now; 200 bitter people wanting to leave as quickly as possible.
I never even had a chance to talk with the judge or attorneys and try to weasel my way out of getting selected. They picked their jury before I got my turn and I was sent back to the waiting room for lunch.
About two hours later, we were finally sent home. We were lucky. Most jurors have to stay a minimum of two days. Because there were no cases left to fill the following day and the attorneys likely saw how incompetent we all looked, we were sent home early. The excitement even prompted me to high-five an old Chinese guy sitting nearby. Needless to say, it was a joyous feeling to get the hell out of there.
Jury duty is supposed to be one of those civic duties we’re thankful for. Like voting for American Idol contestants or having the freedom of speech to tweet whatever we want, it’s one of those wonderful privileges in this country.
But can’t privileges have their flaws?
The jury duty system is a flawed one in need of repair. It’s also quite insulting to receive five bucks after. Why even bother? It’s like when a company offers a 1% match on a 401K plan.
Don’t patronize me, please. I know I’m worthless. Don’t throw a couple of bones to put an actual price tag on it.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: I would like to give a few honorable mentions to a few people I had jury duty with. There was the guy who looked exactly like New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom. There was the guy who ironically wore an Aaron Judge shirsey to jury duty which means his shirt said “Judge” on it. Finally, shout out to the old Jewish woman who said she told the judge she couldn’t be selected because of the upcoming Jewish holiday. For a clearly Italian woman, it was a bold risk.