Jury Duty…Why Not Me?
So jury duty. It is probably the one thing that most people fear and try to get out of, but not me. Nope, I want to get selected for jury duty. When you register to vote, you are eligible for selection for jury duty. I have always been fascinated by law and the judicial process. I wrote before that at one time I wanted to be a lawyer. In college, I took legal and criminal justice courses. One of my classes required us to sit in on open court cases as a part of the course work and write a paper on the different areas of the judicial process. I enjoyed watching the way things were presented and the back and forth between the lawyers and the judge.
One of my previous jobs was a very short stint working in the office of a county attorney in Kansas. You might wonder why it was a short stint and the answer would be that the pay was horrible and I became disillusioned. One day, I arrived at work to find a large box, approximately 3 feet high and 3 feet wide filled with the files of third or greater DUI and drug cases. This meant that each individual case in the box represented a person that had been arrested and charged for their third or more DUI (driving while intoxicated) or third or more drug offense. And there were hundreds of files in the box. I was told that I had to prepare letters stating that the County Attorney was declining to prosecute. The reason they weren’t prosecuted was that the statute of limitations had passed. Or in simple terms, the county attorney’s office had waited too long to go to trial.
The letter that went to the defendant, and the victim if there was one, was signed by the Assistant County Attorney. The letter that went to the police officer that made the arrest was to be signed by me. Once the letters went out, the office was overwhelmed by calls from the victims. We never heard from the defendants. And as for the police officers, well, they worked in the same building as we did, so they made personal visits to the office, angry and frustrated that they had done all the work and the people were not being prosecuted. I understood that their anger wasn’t really towards me, but I was bothered that the judicial process appeared to be broken. So I began looking for another job and left as soon as I could.
That experience didn’t stop me from wanting to be picked for jury duty. One day, several years later, I received my notice that I was selected for jury duty. In Kansas, you have to call the night before the date you are scheduled to appear and see if a trial is expected and you have to appear or if the trial is canceled and you don’t have to go. I called in and was told not to come. The same thing happened to my husband, so no jury duty for either of us.
When we moved to Maryland, we were registered to vote when we received our Maryland driver’s license. My son also registered to vote for the first time. And I waited to get selected for jury duty. After being here for about a year, I received a jury summons from the Federal Court in Kansas. Hmm…that meant a big case. A federal case and I now lived in Maryland. The directions said to go online to answer the jury questions. I couldn’t get past the first one, which asked which county in Kansas I lived in. The online form didn’t give you the option of “I no longer live in Kansas.” I had to mail in the form. One of the questions was how far do you live from the court house. My answer was 1,013 miles, one way. I received a letter back that it appeared that I lived too far to commute back and forth for a trial. They asked for a copy of my Maryland driver’s license and then excused me from appearing.
Last year, my husband received a summons for jury duty. He called the night before and was told that he had to appear the next day. He then spent most of the next day waiting with about 80 other people to see if they would be needed for a trial. He also spent most of the time sending me text after text of what he was going through and amusing stories of what was going on around him, mainly the people who were complaining about wasting their day. He ended up being release after 6 hours and getting $20 for his time. A few months later, my son received his summons, but was told not to come when he called. Yesterday, my husband brought in the mail and began swearing up a blue streak. Yep, he got called up for jury duty again for the second time in a year. As for me, I’m still waiting and waiting.