Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ruminations on Jury Duty

Today I had to wake up at 5-freakin'-30 in the AM so I could be at the closest Park & Ride. I had to report for jury duty. Now, before people get their cracks cheesed with outrage that I'm complaining about jury duty, shaddup. I would be perfectly happy to serve on any jury that didn't involve a crime committed against a child. What I'm complaining about, and have always complained about, is having to sit for HOURS in a cold, windowless room, bored out of my skull, waiting. This is my image of prison, and I don't think it's fair to subject the people who have to decide court cases objectively to such cruel and unusual punishment. I say that if we have to go down there we should automatically be on a jury panel.

My day began with a nice ride on a brand new "Express" bus that went straight downtown. The only thing I found odd on the bus ride was a sign telling people that when they exit the bus they should NOT walk in front of the bus. I should not be surprised that Via has to post a sign telling people not to be stupid idiots, but I was.

The bus driver was nice enough to tell me when we got to the courthouse, since I always forget what the heck the building looks like. (It's an old red brick building with original architechtural stylings!) Across the street is San Fernando Cathedral. In front of the courthouse is a marker which basically says that some guy decided that this spot would be a good place for a courthouse. He would be correct. Next to the courthouse is the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center, and this is where I was supposed to be. In the basement, the summons read. Wha? There is some place in South Texas that has a basement? Really?

Yep. A real, honest-to-gosh basement. I went throught the metal detector(NO knitting needles allowed!) and down a flight of stairs into the jury room. It was packed, and they were herding us like cattle into seats. We sat, wearing our JUROR pins and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally the judge showed up to swear us in...and she was twelve. She looked like she just came from a middle school theater group wearing a judge's robe from one of those one act plays those kids do. Okay, she was probably older than twelve, but not by too many years. Maybe this was her first year as a judge.

She swears us in...we wait. At least after the judge showed up we got to move around a bit. I went to the cafeteria to find some coffee(meh) and ended up having a breakfast taco(pretty good, actually), then parked myself in a room near the jury room that had a table, so I could at least write. I should have brought my computer because then I could have at least done some work, but since it did not specifically state on the summons that one could bring a computer, I didn't want to chance it. I burned through the Atlantic Monthly magazine and the newspaper in record time.

They let us go to lunch, and I made a bad choice and had the enchiladas. Bad, bad choice, but I didn't pay for it immediately, which was good. I spent a few quality moments with some obese pigeons and a determined grackle, trying to see how close they were willing to get to my foot to get some cracker crumbs. The pigeons were slow, but they definitely were the risk takers. Probably why they were obese. I spent a few moments in San Fernando Cathedral, like a good Catholic, then headed back over to the Justice Center. To wait...and wait...and wait.

I think they called us back to the jury room a total of six times to read us names of people who were selected to be on a panel. I don't know, because after about 45 minutes of sitting there I started feeling sickly in my tummy. (Like I said, enchiladas at an unfamiliar restaurant were a bad, bad choice on this day. I tried reading a book, but I mostly tried very hard not to fall asleep or vomit.) When the baliff finally told us that we could go a little after three, I was so ready! The bus ride home was uneventful(except that the guy sitting across the aisle from me looked suspiciously like Omar from The Wire. Weird.).

As soon as I got home I did NOT throw up, which I considered a small victory. I had been hoping to have my house allll to myself, but of course my mother-in-law was here, and that totally crushed my groove(maybe if I would have thrown up on her? Probably not). So I took a nap, and fell asleep thinking that at least I had missed a huge staff meeting at work.

Although it's a toss up as to which would have been more tortuous at this point.

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