Jury Duty-anything but trivial

At  -12 degrees, getting dressed in layers, and coaxing the frozen salt encrusted Scion to start Monday morning, was anything but delightful for either of us. Civic duty aside, weaving through Kenosha traffic after a six-inch snowfall to fight for a spot in the overcrowded parking lot is never fun, but especially irritating when you would rather be snuggled under a blanket near a roaring fire as I was earlier that day.

The first ‘randomly’ drawn summons arrived mid-November; and I say randomly drawn with my tongue planted firmly in cheek as this was my 12th, yes, you heard me, my 12th summons. I was accepting of the responsibility, until I developed a nasty case of shingles all along the right side of my head and neck. It would have been nicer to go in December where we experienced the balmier side of winter, but as typical Irish luck would have it, my duty began with Arctic temperatures.

As I maneuvered out of the car, my feet slid way ahead of me, and to my horror, I noticed that the lot was coated in thick ice, a theme that accompanied me on a four block hike to the front of the courthouse. Because of side effects of late stage Lyme Disease and Levaquin toxicity, normal walking has become difficult, and the slick surface made my journey much more treacherous. My moment of relief upon making it to the building without breaking a hip was brief; quickly contrasted by a couple of guards telling me to put all my belongings through a TSA type scanner accompanied by my walking through a metal detector.

Of course the alarms went off with a dozen irritated would-be jurors behind me. The guard hovered the wand around my body as I tried to explain to him that I have an artificial knee which sets off every metal detector I have walked through since 2008. He scanned again. “You must have a belt on.” I did not. “I have an artificial knee,” I said again. He scanned a third time. “You must have some metal on.” I sighed. “It’s my knee, I had a replacement.” He stared thoughtfully into my eyes. “You had a knee replacement?” I nodded. “Oh, you may go.”

By the time the video outlining juror responsibility began, there was standing room only and approximately a thousand of us craned our ears to hear above the chatter within the room. A couple of hours later, most of the potential jurors were sent home and 37 remained; yes, of course, I was among the 37.

While jury duty is something that few people are thrilled about, it is actually quite an interesting process of waiting and learning about the wheels of justice; wheels that often move excruciatingly slow.

The group of us moved to a court room where the judge welcomed us and explained the case and the magnitude of our civil responsibility. The lawyers took turns peppering us with questions and once they were satisfied, sat down to decide who would encompass the 13 members of the jury. During that time, the judge did something I had never seen before. He took out a 2008 Trivial Pursuit desk calendar and held it up to us, saying that he likes to spend this time playing Trivial Pursuit with the potential jurors. I laughed, wondering if this guy was for real.  He was. For about 20 minutes, he read off questions and those of us who knew the answers, held up their hands to respond. Surprisingly, I answered most of them correctly and first, which caused some of the younger ones to remark that I was “really good.”

Actually, the ability to rattle off meaningless random tidbits is a habit that a dear priest friend instilled in me. He would often come by and play Trivial Pursuit with my kids and me, and would win every single time. None of us had a chance and once I remember him telling me that his brother-in-law threw the game on the floor because he could not correctly answer a single question. I never wanted to be the one who could not answer a question, so I used to study indiscriminate facts and attempt to commit them to memory. It seemed to be my saving grace this time.

In the end, I was not picked to serve on this jury, but I learned a lot about this judge. His sense of humor and warm personality made me want to serve this trial. While I don’t know why I have been summoned so many times, I do feel that jury service is an important duty..after all, I would hope to have a quality jury if I ended up in court. Wouldn’t you?

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