The inevitable finally came to be. I was summoned this week for jury duty. How was it partial experience? Well, the trial was expected to last 3 days, but a medical emergency created a cancellation. We were half of the way through the case, so I was disappointed. Of course, I hadn’t been so enthused in the beginning. I believe that is normal. Let’s just say that I called twice that morning, a handful of times the day before, and once a day since I received the summons. I was hoping for a cancellation. Yes, I am that person.
Preparing for the First Day
Anyway, I wish I had known a few details before going. I had read about a handful of articles, but I felt they weren’t specific enough. I couldn’t find any information about the Otero County Courthouse. So, I guessed as to what was expected. I showed up at about 8:10 a.m. (the actual appointed time was 8:15 a.m.) I thought I was ridiculous for “being late,” but others were walking in long after I did. It’s possible that the summoned were still coming in after 8:30. No one was penalized for that, either. The judge did say that only 50% of those called in, actually attend.
Anyway, clothing is another subject. I read that it’s proper to dress up. Most potential jurors were as casual as one can be. I was honestly shocked. I was people-watching while the instructions video was playing. Afterward, the time was spent choosing actual jurors. This lasted up until lunchtime. There was one 15-20 minute recess during that time. I spent it eating a peach that I brought with me. Also, I usually drink a lot of water, so… (I always carry a stainless steel bottle, by the way.)
People really do hate jury duty, though. The excuses weren’t ridiculous, but there were many. I wonder if there isn’t a faster way to weed certain people out. I mean, it took about 3 hours, and even then, someone was removed at the last minute. I couldn’t help but smirk when certain individuals mention being third cousins or longtime family friends. It’s just that, living in this area, I have constantly heard about families almost killing each other over nonsense. So, all of a sudden, “knowing someone” is enough to not be able to call guilty, or condemn, over an actual serious matter.
So, why was I chosen? I walked in there hoping that I wouldn’t be chosen but feeling that I would. It could have been the clothes, my demeanor, or the fact that I had no conflict of interest. I don’t get out enough to know anyone, and I prefer to be around certain types of people. I’m young enough to be immature, yet I am not fresh out of high school. Of course, I am not old enough to have any baggage or deep biases. I felt like it was my destiny though. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I accepted my jury duty.
I regret not bringing my own lunch. I could have. 90 minutes were given, and we were allowed to leave the premises. I expected to be kept in a room, I guess (I watch too many odd movies and series’s). I spent $14 on a salad and latte at the nearby Barista coffee shop. It was all very tasty, but I could have saved money. Besides, I forgot to ask for the removal of cheese. I know it’s my own fault for being cheap and oblivious.
Anyway, after lunch, the trial began. I was not expecting that. I thought we would learn about the case, leave, and return the next day. The next few hours were interesting, of course, but I can’t speak about it. We got to go home at 5 pm, though. That reminds me of a joke one of the other jurors made about government employees and business hours. Whenever we were shoved along to the jury room, there came to be some random conversations. I’m too introverted to add much, but I was definitely listening. The main topics were homemade alcohol, traditional pickling (fermentation), canning, farm living, and the disgusting local water we have.
Then comes the second day of jury duty. I forgot to put on a tank top under my button-down blouse the day before. In fact, a button fell off from the bust line. That would happen to me. So, this time I knew better, and I left part of the blouse unbuttoned at the top and wore a tank top. No, I don’t believe I resembled a harlot. I was the second to last juror to enter the jury room, but I wasn’t late, either. Oh, and I did pack a salad in a jar for lunch (it looked pretty, too).
I obviously can’t mention any names or be specific, but I thought some of the people involved in the trial were comedic. I swear they could have been drawn as cartoon characters–like caricatures. It kept me very entertained. Anyway, after returning from lunch (I ate in the car since it was nice outside), once seated, we were told that a medical emergency had caused the cancellation of the trial. The case would be scheduled for another time, for the same number of days, but with different jurors. So that was it. We were halfway through, and I really was looking forward to debating with the rest of the jury.
The Other Jurors
Speaking of the other jurors, I liked getting to know them. Most of them were extroverted or talkative, anyway. I don’t tend to meet new people, especially in person. Some of them knew each other, but Otero County isn’t at all highly populated–it’s expected. That may be a reason why everyone seems related or family friends (and can find an easy way out of jury duty). I feel like I missed an opportunity. Chances are that I will be summoned again, but trials also get canceled before being started. From the original group of the potential jury, about a handful had done it once or twice, and someone had it happen like 4 times. Most of these individuals were 40-60 years of age. Oh, well, who knows?
Advice for Jury Duty
Here is my advice (whether anyone wants it, or not):
- Do you want jury duty, yes? Dress for it. Go for that business casual look. No? This gives you countless outfit possibilities–just don’t get ridiculous. There’s obviously more to it than looks, but it still plays a part.
- Again, depending on what you want, consider any biases you might have the moment you get a look at who’s involved in the case. Some people should have been removed earlier, but I imagine that they actually wanted to be part of the jury. I thought the selection took longer than needed, because of that.
- Wear articles of clothing that you would use during the autumn, or for 60-70 F. I imagine that the temperature benefits those who wear formal suits. I would layer when it’s warm outside. Otherwise, you’ll burn to death when you leave the building, but you’ll freeze every time you enter.
- Bring your own lunch and snacks. Keep them in one of those insulated lunch bags or a small cooler (leave in your vehicle). Otherwise, you’ll need $15-25 for lunch, depending on the restaurant and chosen meal. There are vending machines for cheap snacks, but they are mostly unhealthy. Some courthouses have cafeterias, but this isn’t one of them. Also, there is no designated fridge for the jurors to use.
- I was barely on time each morning because I kept lounging around at home. Other than that I did all else, right–I think. My alarm was set for me to wake up 1 1/2-2 hours before I needed to be there (women usually need more time than men). It depends on how far away a person is. For me, it was about 20 miles or 20 minutes. Don’t be late, it looks rude–though I am not sure how late you can be without being reprimanded for it (I guess, probably not more than 15 minutes).
- Do show up for the summons and jury duty. Every state has different punishments, but I am sure it’s not worth it.
- For those who are employed, or attending college, don’t forget to tell your employer or professors. Also, you should ask the court office for a document that proves your jury duty, on the final day. I take online classes, so it didn’t make a difference for me. As for any pay, you’ll just have to talk to your employer and the courthouse. It didn’t apply to me, so I don’t know the details.