Jury (Jury!) Duty (Duty!) – Brings Out The Juror In My Souuuuullllll

If I seem quiet this week, it’s because I’ve got jury duty.

…cue people telling me, “I’m sorry.” But I’m not sorry! For me, jury duty is one of the most important things an American citizen can do, and while it’s mildly inconveniencing, I’m thrilled to see how the justice system works up close.

In Cleveland, we don’t do the “one trial and you go home” model – no, a large pool of jurors hangs around for five days.  If you get called into a trial and then are rejected as a juror for some reason (in America, both sides can disqualify a juror in a process called voir dire), you get tossed back into the pool until your time of service is up.

The juror pool has a frighteningly large selection of board games and magazines.  Most people just wait for a week and never get called to trial.  It’s boredom, and the courts know it, but they need to have as many potential jurors as necessary to hold a trial, and so they stress how you’re doing your civic duty merely by showing up.

Me? I got lucky – I got called into the first trial, and am currently seeing if I get chosen to be a juror.  And beyond that, I cannot say; obviously, blogging about a trial would be idiocy.

But what strikes me about the process is how motivated my fellow jurors are.  Most of them were not looking forward to milling around for five days – but when the potential of a trial came up, they all took it very seriously.  They realized that people’s lives would be affected by this.

As I’ve been told that jurors are apathetic dullards, this is a nice change. To see people taking pride in the process.

And what also strikes me here, as a cross-section of America, is how necessary sports and children are as a glue.  You can see people making small talk, trying to connect with each other, and in all of the cases they start with either sports or children.  Which, yeah, on my kink-friendly, nerdy-ass blog would not go over well – but in mainstream America, most people like a sport, or have a child, and as a result this is a good way to smooth over the social awkwardnesses that result from a bunch of random people culled from streets all across Cleveland being forced to meet for the first time.

I don’t care for sports.   But I can see the usefulness of knowing a bit about sports, even if it’s just that the Browns are sucking (again) this year, because it’s a comparatively safe way of reaching out to other people.  And while I wish movies or cooking shows were popular enough that they could serve as the default topic of choice, I totally get why having something so monolithic in a society makes it useful as a default conversational starter.

Anyway, I gotta go see if I get chosen.  Wonder if the blog itself will come up when the lawyers question me to see whether I’m fit for the job.  Catch you on the flip side.

1 Comment

  1. Twily
    Dec 1, 2015

    It’s interesting, albeit admittedly unsurprising, to see a post like this from you about jury duty. My cousin’s husband posted an entry of a similar sentiment when he was selected. I had to pass up my first shot at jury duty because I was in the midst of my student teaching and unable to afford the time off (afford in the academic sense, not the fiscal one, as student teaching essentially amounts to an unpaid internship), but I would be intrigued to see it from the inside, myself.

    I wonder, do you suppose that you could post in generalities about the experience of serving on a jury, if you are, in fact, selected, without actually talking about the trial itself, or would that be too limiting?

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