My civic duty

Some people find it simply enthralling. Others wouldn’t wish it upon a serial murderer.

Jury duty. I’ve gotten out of it before. This time, I’m not so lucky. Thursday I report for jury duty. Has anyone been through this before?

I have two preconceived notions of jury duty, both complete opposites of each other. The first is from Law and Order, where juries are sequestered and poured over and eventually selected based on a series of incredibly revealing questions and assumed biases. I imagine going in on Thursday and being asked my entire family history, my prejudices and associations and other forms of personal definitions.

Then, I will be selected and will serve on a jury for weeks, shut off from the rest of the world, with a newspaper that is missing pieces of cut out information in order to shield me from any outside influence. I will sit and argue for or against the accused for hours – days! – and will leave the room utterly drained, completely exhausted and ready to release or condemn a fellow human being for a crime they may or may not have committed.

My other view is one of sheer boredom. I could be selected for duty, forced to sit in a somewhat uncomfortable chair, barely able to stay awake or keep any sort of interest in the minor-league crimes we are forced to hear, and leave a few hours later, my day wasted and my patience thinned.

My guess is that it will be somewhere in the middle. Quite possibly, I will end up with a hot court case; the one interesting trial that will captivate my attention and force me to make crucial decisions. This is actually kind of exciting, if you look at it from a “seeing justice/injustice from the inside out” sort of way. I’ve never been part of a trial – not a witness, a jury member, or a member of either side. Now I can see the court system in real life – in full Technicolor and everything.

All of my judicial branch knowledge comes from television. So I’m fully prepared for McCoy to burst into the room, ready to take on all comers as the lead prosecution. I’m ready for a parade of bit actors to be selected as lawyer for the defense, ready to stick it to the system in any way possible on their way to larger parts in television movies and situation comedies.

I guess this is my civic duty, right? It’s a new experience, that’s for sure, but I can’t help but dread the sheer boredom I fear will enclose the entire courtroom upon the judge’s first drop of the gavel.

Do you think I can bring a magazine?

This was lovingly handwritten on October 30th, 2006