Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

I hate jury duty, part 1, a personal story

Back in the good old days, names of potential jurors were obtained from voter registration forms.

This makes total sense. If you are an American, and you want your voting rights, you also have to be willing to take on the responsibilities of being a juror.


Some of us weren't that interested in the one and totally uncomfortable with the other, so we opted out of both.

Before I got married, I had voted a few times. I voted for president once and I voted for congress a couple of times, and in a local election I voted against the sale of alcohol. I mostly voted the same as my parents. If I didn't have an opinion on something, I asked what dad was voted on, and I voted the same. And while I was totally against the sale of alcohol (and that election it was clear that those of us who cared did not want it either), the next year we had to vote on it again, only nobody told us, so it was voted in and for some reason we are not allowed to vote it back out again.

Before we got married, my husband didn't really vote on anything. But if it had been something really important to his mother, he probably would have voted with her.

My parents and his parents usually didn't vote the same way, so if we voted the same as our families, we'd cancel each other out. So, that first year, we agreed not to vote, unless there was something that we both really wanted to vote on and we were going to vote the same.


Okay, so no serious politics in the house, at least when it was just the two of us in the house.

And then my husband got a jury summons.

Okay, how could this be? I had registered, but in another county, so that didn't count anymore. He had never registered anywhere. So how did either of us get a summons.


Oh, his mother decided to register for him. Without asking. And how is someone else able to register for another person? (Never really did get how that happened. Forged signature, maybe?) And why did she think it was important enough to register him when she wasn't voting herself at that time?

Anyway, he got this summons, and he was stuck with it.

When you get a juror summons, there are usually excuses that get you out of juror duty without any problem, and if you have one of those excuses you just check the box and mail it in. Like, the summons might have been forwarded from an old address in another county, and you just check the box that says you no longer live in that county and write in your new address. Or, if you are past a certain age, and you don't want to serve, you check that box. Or if you are a student, or if you are the primary caregiver of a child, or if you are the primary caregiver of an elderly or disabled person, you check the appropriate box and mail in the form, and you never even have to go to the courthouse. Or, if you know that you are going to be out of town, you check that box and write in the dates, and you get a postponement.


Now, if you have one of those excuses, but for some reason you didn't check the box and mail it in by a certain date, you can still get out of juror duty, but you have to go to the courthouse and explain.

Now, if you have some other excuse, you have to go to the courthouse and explain. But, if you have some other excuse, they have pretty much already decided that isn't a valid excuse. For instance, financial hardship is NOT considered a valid excuse. And, not having transportation is not a valid excuse. And working the night shift and having to sleep is not a valid excuse.


So, while any of those things may be true, explaining this usually doesn't help. An individual judge may listen and decide that you wouldn't make a good juror, but that just puts you back in the waiting area. So you may still have to go to court for the rest of the day, or even the rest of the week.

That's for county. Federal is different, but at least you get to stay home during that month until they actually need you.


So, when my husband got his first juror summons, he worked nights, and most of the time he would be asleep during the hours he was supposed to be in court. And he explained this to everyone and wrote it on several questionnaires, and still he had to go to court from Monday until Thursday, though most days it was only for an hour or two. Whatever trial he was supposed to participate in never happened, and he was never actually picked to be on a jury, just that particular jury pool. Whatever it was, it was settled, but they didn't work it all out until Thursday, so he kept having to go to court just in case they decided to proceed with the trial that day.

He still went to work all of those days, just with about half of the sleep he needed. And for all that trouble he was paid about twenty-four dollars.


Next, it was my turn.

While I never registered to vote, they decided that they did not have enough names from voter registration and would probably get more names from the DMV. While some of us are okay giving up our right to vote if we have to, we can't not drive, and even if we don't drive we still need some sort of picture ID, which you still get at the DMV even if you aren't actually getting a driver's license.


I didn't have a car at the time, and with my husband's schedule, he couldn't drive me. My in-laws couldn't help out that day either. I called an offered to serve on a Thursday, when my husband could drive me, but they don't start any trials on a Thursday. There was just no reasoning with them. Finally, someone told me that I could come in early, cause the building would be open long before anyone had to be in court. So I said I could do it, if my husband could drop me off before 6:30. They assured me that the building would be open at 6:00.

They lied.

Now, the weather was not particularly bad that day, and I was able to walk a few blocks to another building that was open and wait there. But that is not a really safe area, and what if I had been mugged or what if it had been cold and what if the other building hadn't been open either?


Nobody at the courthouse cares about any of that.

We've had other experiences with jury duty, but those two were the worst. I've never been picked, and if I remember correctly he's only been picked once. I've got more to say on the subject, but I think that's enough for now.


EDIT: Correction, now that I think about it, my husband was on two juries. One trial lasted most of the week before it was settled, and the other was a rubber stamp thing that took a few hours.

Share This Story