Jury Duty

Every few years I get a summons in the mail inviting me to go to a courthouse for jury duty. This has been going on for over 30 years and it is always the same drill. If you go, you will be sent a check for 6 dollars to offset your expenses. If you don’t go, you will be sent a fine of up to 500 dollars to fill the coffers of the greedy. Least I forget, you are also offered the opportunity to donate your meager pittance to some childrens charity that no one has ever heard of. Peachy, just peachy.

Lately the renumeration has increased to 40 dollars a day but only if you are assigned to a trial and then only on the second day of your tour of duty.

Six dollars is not much, but if you ride mass transit, it leaves you with enough money to have a 6 inch subway sandwich for lunch.

Trust me, mass transit is the only way to go. If you take your car, it will cost you at least one gallon of gas and probably two. That alone eats up your six dollar pittance. Then they have the audacity to offer you a discount parking fee of only 3 dollars, but you have to get your ticket validated before 4:30.

Never mind that the time you spend on jury duty is really donated under duress. If you are self employed or your employer does not pay for time spent off the job, you end up with a shorted check for the days you volunteer for jury duty.

Jurors are subject to gross mistreatment and I think it is because they are indentured servants. The government has no reason to ensure that a jurors time is not wasted. In many cases a jurors time is wasted to the point of absurdity. A juror receives no consideration and is subjected to conditions that support the convenience of the court.

All the while you are being abused there are some lawyers and judges that are heaping praise on you for allowing it. They go to great lengths to make lovely speeches about how much they appreciate your service. Unfortunately it is only lip service. They do not show any compassion or real appreciation of what they ask of a juror.

Lets look at a typical day of a juror.

The court is downtown and you are to be in the jury room by 8:30 in the morning. If you are late, they consider you the same as not even showing up. This means you have to get up at around six to be ready to leave around seven or seven thirty to get there at eight, in plenty of time to be counted present.

You are told to take a seat in a large jury room. There you sit and wait while all the jury duty slips that were turned in are sorted. This could be over 1000 slips. Once that is done we wait until there is a call for jurors from one of the courts. That normally does not happen until later because the courts don’t start business until 9:30 or later. You see, they are special. They are worth more than 6 dollars a day.

Generally this means that it can be 10:00am or later before any juror gets assigned to go to a courtroom. Meanwhile, every two hours or so you are allowed a half hour break. You can move to sit in the seat next to you, go to the bathroom to throw up, or buy a soft drink from a machine charging $1.50 a can.

Sometimes jurors get assigned to go to a courtroom that is not in the building to which they have been summoned. When that happens they are told they can drive to the new location. Those who did not bring their cars but rode mass transit may ride mass transit back home and get their cars! (see what I mean about abuse?). Or, you can come back in an hour and a half and transportation will be provided.

Having used mass transport to get there I waited for transportation to be provided. They brought up a van that was designed to transport prisoners. It was a hot crowded, caged, affair. A jail on wheels. A van normally designed to hold 9 passengers comfortably was stuffed to overflowing with 13 prospective jurors. A sedan was also provided because there were more than 13 jurors.

Arrival at the second location was around 1:30 and we were all (all 60 of us) standing in a crowded hall outside the courtroom waiting on the next humiliation. Finally, nearly 8 hours after we had risen on that unlucky morning, we were ushered into the courtroom. None of us were in a particularly good mood having been subject to an 8 hour waste of time that could have been avoided. Why not just have us report to the second location at 1PM instead of summoning us to a court that did not need us. Oh, but that would take planing and there is no sense in planning when it comes to the use of a jurors time. After all, they don’t have a choice and are only worth 6 bucks a day.

It took another three hours in the courtroom with defense and prosecution asking loads of questions and the judge admonishing us to judge according to what the law prescribed. I doubt very seriously that the jurors in my group had any idea of what the law was, much less what it prescribed.

We all took oaths to tell the truth. Lawyers also take oaths but I am not sure it is to tell the truth. The only person in the court that I have never seen take an oath to tell the truth or otherwise is the judge. I guess when you become a judge you can’t lie. Or you are allowed to do as you please without consequence.

I got the feeling that justice took second seat to following procedure, but I am not sure how that could be corrected without making justice the personal play toy of the lucky few.

As luck would have it my answers to the questions fell short of what was needed. Therefore I was not selected. Seems that they were more interested in selecting folk eager to follow instructions (the law) rather than allow for people to act on their own definition of what is moral and just. I can see that. That is understandable.

We sometimes hear the high and mighty proclaim that we are a nation governed by laws, not men. The next time you hear that consider this. Our laws are made by men. Furthermore, if you really believe that all men are created equal, then the lawmakers are not any smarter than those who are expected to follow the laws that are made. In addition, we all know how devisive some lawmakers can be. Just look back on the so called immigration bill of 2007.

Me and the others who were not selected waited for nearly 45 minutes in the parking lot for the van to appear to take us back to our original point of departure. Same van, same crowding.

By 5:45 we were back at the original courthouse. By 6:08 I had just missed catching the train back home. Waited another 15 mins for the next train and was back at the neighborhood station by 6:40.

Pretty much a 12 hour day of hurry up and wait. A complete waste of time while being abused by Big Brother at every turn. I would not be at all surprised to discover that was the way the pyramids were built. Aliens had nothing to do with them. It was all slave labor obtained through a jury summons.

One thing I noticed that surprised me was that at no time did anyone think to verify my identity. They merely took the stub of my summons that I had filled out a day earlier and assumed that I was a qualified juror because I did not claim any exemptions or disqualifications.

It would be worth 50 maybe even 100 bucks to hire a surrogate to serve in your place. Not sure what would happen if you were discovered but chances of that are slim enough to tempt one to try it.

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