Disappointed to miss jury duty

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

As I started to write this column, I was sitting in courtroom No. 2 for jury selections to start Tuesday.

The reason for my wait was the complete opposite of a normal trip to the courthouse to cover a trial. Why, one might ask? You got it – jury duty.

The whole experience started last week when I got the small square notice. As soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox, I knew what it was and what it was for – grand jury week.

But unlike most, I was excited to have the opportunity to serve and interested in seeing how the process works.

I’ve heard that people would say or do anything to get out of jury duty, so I was hoping at least one crazy person would show up and say or do something outrageous – maybe like that one episode of “30 Rock” when Lemon dresses up as Princess Leia (with a light saber, too) to get out of jury duty. Unfortunately, the closest we got to that was one guy saying he didn’t believe we had the right to judge another human being. As one would guess, he was quickly shown the door, and he didn’t have a light saber, either.

Any way, I’d covered trials, and in turn, jury selections, before. I knew how a jury was empanelled in a typical criminal trial, but I’m here to tell you the grand jury selection is completely different.

That little card you get in the mail – it’s thrown into a box, given a good shake, and voila! The winner of that raffle doesn’t get turkey. Instead, he or she gets one of 18 seats on the grand jury.

So on Monday, looking at the room filled with 50-plus, I knew the odds weren’t in my favor if being selected. Turns out, I was right.

I was disappointed, but not the other folks in the room. You could see the relief on the others faces, but I knew something they didn’t – that relief was going to be short-lived. You see, if you’re not picked, they’ll find something else court-wise for you to do.

So, there I sat – Tuesday at 1 p.m. just like the instructions on the after hour-juror line said to do, waiting and wondering – will I get my shot?

And the answer is – No.

Turns out, a key witness was “held up in another case,” which meant, for the jurors, freedom. With a “thank you” and “the check will be in the mail” (because apparently you get paid for jury duty), we were released for the week.

As the group was walking to the car, a chorus of “thank goodness” and “all right!” filled the air.

I wonder if I was the only one who felt a little disappointed.

Although, I’m sure, one day, I’ll get the opportunity. And probably as fate would have it, it will come at the worst possible time. Then, I’ll feel like everyone else and dread jury duty.