Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jury duty

Yeah, so not only did we get in late Monday night, I came down with Emily's cold just in time to report for jury duty on Tuesday. I originally received the summons in July and sent back a request to not attend since I was on FMLA. They sent me a second notice and let me pick my top three dates to serve. Being the genius that I am, I picked Labor Day week thinking it's a holiday week and a short week...shouldn't be too much going on.

Um. No. Not a good choice.

Apparently St Louis usually calls jurors twice a week, one group on Monday and one group on Wednesday. But on short weeks, they only call one group--who has to show up twice.

I showed up at 8am on Tuesday and reported to the juror room. We had to watch a video about the trial process and then we sat...and sat...and sat. Around 9:30am they called the first wave of jurors for jury selection and my number was called so off I went. The case in question was a domestic assault case with several additional charges and several counts on each charge. Consequently, the questioning of the jurors took until 4:45pm (we did get a break for lunch).

Can I just say that I certainly hope that I am never tried by a jury of my "peers"? One of the questions the prosecutor asked was have we ever been arrested. Over half of the people in the room raised their hands! Add that to almost as many raising their hands for having been involved in domestic assault (victim or otherwise) and I was seriously depressed being in there. It saddens me to think that so many people are living these kinds of lives...and that it is normal to them--to have people you love and trust beating up on you or on people you love.

At 5pm I was not selected to be on that jury, and the judge informed us that we would need to show up again on Wednesday at 8:30am due to the short week.

Wednesday I'm there again. I asked the jury duty lady (very nice friendly staff that work there, by the way) how it will work today and if they let all of the extra potential jurors go home when the trials are filled. She kind of laughed and said the trials are never filled--there are currently 250 on the dockets. Wow. Keep in mind, this covers all trials in St Louis City, so lawsuits, custody proceedings, etc., as well as criminal trials.

At 11am(!), they selected the first round of potential jurors and once again my number was called. Some of the jurors from our trial the day before had arranged to go to lunch together (might as well make friends when you're all stuck in the same situation!) and only three of us got called so we weren't sure how lunch was going to work out. We were shuttled upstairs and sat some more before being called into the courtroom. We were all seated and prepping ourselves for another round of hours of questioning when the judge announced that the case had been settled and we were all free to go.

The courtroom broke into applause. :) Obviously nobody else wanted to be there for jury duty, either. We turned in our juror badges and I went home to recuperate and try to get over the cough/cold before work today. I am feeling better but will be thrilled when I am no longer coughing. I think this cough alone would be incentive to never take up smoking. I couldn't stand living with this for years on end.

Now we're back to the normal routine, more or less, and things are going really well. :)


Winnie said...

The best thing to carry to jury duty is a good book. Ugh on all the waiting. I caught your cold too, I think the virus came through your blog page. :)

Bethany said...

I had the exact same thoughts last year as I was up for jury duty for the first time. Oh. My. Goodness. I honestly never want to be in a courtroom again. And, I have a cough. Mine's not from a kid, but the fires that were in my backyard last week. Hope you get better soon!

Stephanie said...

shouldnt be so judgemental. Not everyone who has been a victim in a DV case things that it's normal to have someone they love beat up on them. In fact they probably wouldnt be in a "case" if they thought it was normal they wouldnt have called the cops to intervene. Also, alot of people in DV situations feel embarrassed and trapped... definately not normal.

Courtney said...

I'm truly not trying to be judgmental. Having been in an abusive relationship many years ago, I know all too well how easy it is to stay in them.

I would, however, disagree that in many if not most DV situations that it becomes normal. And the vast majority of people do not seek help. Oftentimes when they do, they end up changing their minds (as exampled by one woman in the jury selection who described bringing charges against her husband and then dropping them). The majority of the people who were at the jury selection who were discussing their experiences with DV had NOT reported it...the police experience was a separate question and most of those were for MIP, DUIs, and drug-related incidents.

Missy and Kevin said...

I would love to talk to you about something private concerning Deonna. Could you email me when you get a free moment? Say hello to Mark for us. Love to read up on the boys. Take care.