Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why People Hate Jury Duty

I feel confident in saying "people" and not "I" in the title. Why? Because I lost eight hours of my life to this tedious process.

First, I left my house at 7 a.m. in an attempt to get to the courthouse before my 8 a.m. call. That may not be a big deal to you, but it's HUGE to me. You see, I don't work a daytime schedule, so when I get home prime time television is over and all the late night shows are in full swing. By the time I went to sleep, it was around 2 a.m. I woke up at 6 a.m. so I could be a little less zombie-like. I get in the car and hit the highway, which looks like this.
Now, I fully believe the highway signs should not just warn of congestion. They should be more specific. Say something like "You're not getting anywhere soon" or "Enter if you want to reach a top speed of 15 MPH." It takes me three highways to get downtown and each one of them had traffic moving like someone installed traffic lights on them overnight. What should have taken no more than a half hour took one hour and 25 minutes.

Then, I find the parking garage my jury summons says the courthouse will validate. FULL. So, seeing as I'm 45 minutes late for jury duty, I figure a few more minutes won't be a big deal. I cruise some parking lots. FULL. Then, I find a parking garage a few blocks away, squeeze into the first spot I see, then walk to the courthouse. Thankfully, there's no punishment for being nearly an hour late. I sit down, listen to the lady giving instructions with what I can only assume are the same weekly punchlines provided to keep jurors who clearly don't watch any late night television (where the comedy actually happens) a giggle.

And so begins my wait. I brought a book. While the county generously provides free wi-fi, I found every time I put my device away, I had to log back in. As I looked around, I realized there are a lot of people who aren't at all afraid of sleeping in public.
I was trying to be discreet in my photo taking. That guy was actually snoring. I wish I would have recorded video because he was pretty loud. While many snickered, no one dared wake him. In between my picture taking, I decided to pace myself on my book reading because I was afraid I might finish and then I might have to make contact with my "peers."

By 3 p.m., everybody settled their differences to avoid the judgment of us potential jurors and we were sent home. I collected my things and walked back to the parking garage, where I paid $15. I only wish my $6 jury duty earnings would cover that!

The thing is, I really DO want to be on a jury! I have been summoned three times now and every time, the case has been settled. With all the time spent waiting, it almost seems like it would be better if the courts sent a summons to get people to show up and pre-approved them (get rid of the people who have excuses - legitimate, of course). Then, have those smaller pools of people show up when both sides are ready to choose a jury. Take a phone number, email, pager number (do people still use those?) and call the people the night before to tell them if they're still needed or not. But having hundreds of people sit around for nearly a full day can't be the most efficient way of doing things. It seems like the ONLY way of doing things. I wouldn't be surprised if I suggested this to the officials in charge that they'd respond with the typical government phrase, "It's how we've always done it." Get with it, jury selectors!
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