Jury Duty

After 55 years of life I received a jury notice recently. It came from the US District Court in Concord and it said that over a 2 month period I had to call in on Monday afternoons to find out if I had to report the next day. Monday of this week my number came up. Literally. When one calls in the phone message gives a list of juror numbers who have to report and my number was on the list. So I showed up Tuesday morning.

The first thing we did was report in and they scanned the barcodes on our notices. Then we had a briefing about what was going on. Then we walked up to the court room. The plan was to select 32 people from which the attorneys would select 14. Sounds easy but we were first asked a bunch of questions. If we answered “yes” to any of them we were to ask to speak to the judge. The judge would then decide if people should be excused or if they were qualified to serve. AS they called the names and numbers of the 32 people (of the 55 or so who were there) people selected were asked if they needed to talk to the judge.

I would say that almost half the people wanted/needed to talk to the judge. If the judge excused someone a new number was called and that person was asked if they needed to talk to the judge. A lot of people wanted to get out of serving. Some were self employed or part of small companies. Others had people they needed to take care of – small children or elderly parents. Others had medical issues. Some people – about 20 – the judge did excuse but many of them he didn’t. In the end we had 32 people with only 2 or 3 not having been selected or excused.

We had all filled out forms back in February so the attorneys knew something about us all. Once we were a panel of 32 the attorneys started going over their notes from the talks with the judge and I assume notes they had made from the survey results. In fairly short order they agreed on 14 people to stay and the others were excused. At this point I knew I was on a jury. The judge told us the case would take about three days.

The whole process took about two and a half hours. I was expecting the attorneys to question jurors like they do on TV but that never happened. I guess it might happen in some cases but clearly it’s not all like TV. 🙂

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