Not until living in one of the murder capitals of the county did I ever get summoned for jury duty. Now, it appears to be a yearly event. The last time I was summoned, I was #420-something. That translated into one of the 600 summons that required attendance, sitting in a cold room all day watching horrible movies (Last Holiday, Meet the Parents - ok, not so bad, and Home Alone - in February!). Of course, as fate would have it, I was summoned for the last trial selection of the day. At least I didn't have to watch Last Holiday - AGAIN!
It was probably the best civics/social studies lesson I've ever had, sitting in that courtroom, listening to the judge give instructions and watching countless people trying in vain to get out of doing their duty. The judge was great and actually said something to the effect of "Unless you're dying, you're not getting out of doing your civic duty." Love it! Being a reasonable person and not being able to lie (seriously, I can't do it!), I didn't make any objections and was actually seated as juror #11! This did concern me a bit since the defendants were arrested for illegal gun possession and were from West Baltimore - exactly where we mentor kids on Wednesday nights! Well, it didn't take too long before the the defendants' attorney vetoed my position and I quickly learned that even though the defendants had the same complexion as me, they didn't consider me a peer. Luckily I was dismissed and able to go home, but I learned some very valuable lessons that day:
1. Christmas movies should not be watched outside of the Christmas season.
2. There is no amount of reading material that can occupy a person for 8 hours in the same chair.
3. The waiting room for jury duty is quite possibly the best place to people watch.
4. I am worth way more than the $15 they pay you for showing up to jury duty.
5. You better have a really good reason if you are actually going to speak to a judge to try to get out of jury duty!
6. If your lawyer is going to give you a sweater to look presentable, make sure he gives you pants too so that you don't wear sweatpants. You will be standing up in court.
7. If you are educated and "fair", you're probably not going to be seated on a jury in Baltimore city.
8. Years of watching Law and Order forms my foundation for understanding legal jargon.
I review these lessons as I prepare myself to return to jury duty tomorrow. I am summons #921. In years past, this meant that I wouldn't have to report for duty. As such, I made plans for tomorrow, including a hair appointment to prepare for a fancy holiday work party tomorrow night. However, it appears that all 999 summons that were sent for today's jury duty were required to attend, meaning, all 999 summons sent for tomorrow (including my #921) will likely have to attend as well. I won't find out until at 5:00pm tonight when I call the hotline to see what numbers are reporting. My fingers are crossed, hoping that tomorrow's docket is light. Stay tuned for updates!