My Surprising Jury Duty Story

Manic:  I felt manic when that darn jury summons arrived in the mail! Maybe it is because I have been picked before and I served on a jury and I didn’t like the experience.   Perhaps it is because being away at jury duty means being away from my kids all day and although they are older, I still don’t like leaving a teen and a tween left to their own devices all day long.  And I don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing what the rest of my week may entail depending on if I’m selected to serve on a jury or free to go back to my comfortably manic life!

Managed:  Realized that there was nothing I could do about it and I do appreciate that we all have to take our turn to do our duty and serve our jury duty, so I decided to go with the flow on my jury duty day.  And what happened next was interesting.

legal scalesFirst, a couple of things to tell you if you go to the Superior Court in Phoenix.  Park in the lot that is right across the street from the Superior Court (the one that is recommended on your jury summons) because they will validate your parking ticket and parking can be expensive on a weekday in downtown Phoenix.

When you arrive and you see a crowd of people waiting for the building to open at 8am, you may feel confused because your jury summons says to arrive between 7:45am and 8am for registration.  So after a few minutes of standing there scratching my head confused by this, I tried the door which was unlocked for the likes of me and my fellow jury duty doers.  Don’t let that confuse you because you want to get in before the masses or you will be stuck in a long security line. You may bring a water bottle in, but that is it, so drink up your coffee before you enter the building or you will have wasted your hard earned Starbucks money.

Once I checked in and saw that there were seven cases on the screen and a good amount of empty chairs around me (show up for your jury duty peeps!), I did the math and knew I was doomed to be picked and picked I was within 20 minutes.  That was fast! So off I went with 24 other anxious faces.  We knew that seven of us would be selected today.  Some people displayed frowns, while others were anxious and some looked intrigued and seemed to look  forward to experiencing the inner workings of a courtroom.  My face was a combination of anxiety and relief knowing that at least I would soon know if I was free to go or would have to make calls to reschedule the busy week ahead.

Once seated in the courtroom, I was surprised by just how personal we have to get in front of 24 strangers, the Judge, the lawyers, the Defendant and the Bailiff.  Each of us had to stand and state our name, the closest cross streets to where we live (I didn’t like that), our profession, if we were married and where our spouse works.  And without saying too much about the case (because I’m not allowed to) since it involved a DUI, some of my fellow potential jurors had to share that they were recovering alcoholics.  I had to wonder if that couldn’t be asked in private.

I became rather embarrassed when I couldn’t recall a lot of the details from the jury that I served on several years ago.  I told the judge and everyone else in the room that at the time I was a sleep deprived working Mom of little kids and that is why my memory was failing me.  To my surprise, several of the others also had trouble recalling a lot of the details of their previous jury experience, too.  I guess I was a little bit off the hook, but I promised myself that if I was selected, I would make a note to try to remember it this time!

Then we were told that some of us would be questioned privately and I was on that list.   So we all went out into the hallway to wait for our turn to speak privately with the Judge, the Bailiff, the lawyers and the Defendant.

I was the 6th person to be called back into the courtroom for my private meeting.  First the very nice judge asked me if I would be distracted by the fact that I had kids at home and that this case could go all week long.  I told her that I would try not to be distracted as long as she could reassure me that if my family had an emergency I would be notified and pulled off the jury to get to my kids.  She assured me that would be the case, so I then told her that I felt relieved and would try to focus on the case at hand…but then I mentioned one other item and that was that I would try not to rush things along, but in my mind  I would feel anxious because our family had plans to leave a few days later.  (I didn’t tell her that it was my daughter’s makeup Disneyland trip because she was so sick the last time we tried to go that we ended up in the Orange County Children’s Hospital instead of Disney).  I didn’t tell her that because I didn’t want to sound like I was just trying to get off and I wanted to be a good citizen and do my part….but I did tell her that I had travel insurance, so that it would be OK.

To my pleasant surprise, she told me that she would excuse me because she doesn’t like to disrupt a family vacation.  Wow! I was grateful, especially because I hadn’t asked her to do that and I had told her that I did have the travel insurance.  She did send me back to the jury assembly room to possibly be assigned to a case that would only go a day or two, so off I went.

After we were excused for lunch, I returned an hour later and was told by the very nice jury coordinator that I was free to go.  She told me to “run like the wind” and that made me laugh.

All in all my experience was positive and I was lucky to have a thoughtful judge.  My girl was sure happy that we didn’t have to cancel our Disneyland trip, especially after our first attempt to see Mickey a few months ago during our Disneyland Trip Gone Bad!

Have you been to jury duty recently?  What was your experience like?