Yesterday my mailbox held something I always dread receiving: A jury summons.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m perfectly happy to honor my civic duty. But I’d prefer that duty not be a week from Tuesday. Maybe in the winter when I’m not as busy? What can I say? There’s never a good time to get a jury summons. So I’m contemplating rescheduling. And then rescheduling the reschedule.
I have to admit if I were on trial, I’d want jurors who wanted to be there…who are impartial, open minded people who won’t prejudge and will convict or acquit based on the evidence. Do I sound like I watch Law and Order? (I don’t.) But to be honest, I believe I’d be that kind of juror. I’m just hoping I don’t have to be. Selfish, I know.
But here’s the thing; I’m due to serve. Whenever I’ve opened that letter from the courts, I’ve managed to avoid jury duty. Usually it’s because of lack of cases needing jurors and also because I’ve had the great fortune of my juror number being in the triple digits, practically ensuring I’m free and clear.
Twice in the past I came precariously close to being chosen but had legitimate excuses not to serve: When my mom was terminally ill and the trial was to last at least a couple weeks, I was dismissed. I couldn’t give up that time with her. Besides, I found the defense attorney unbearably pompous. Probably would have convicted just to spite him.
The second time I was dismissed was when the county allowed the Buck Center (a research facility) to be built on a nearby hilltop even though all previous inspections of the site said a monstrosity of that size couldn’t be structurally supported. It was built anyway and soon the homes below began to shift. Sidewalks broke, doors wouldn’t close, foundations slipped. Homeowners lined the courtroom because their dream homes were now nightmares they’d never be able to sell. It was heartbreaking.
When they asked if anyone had a legitimate reason not to serve, I raised my hand. The judge asked for my reason. I said I should probably say it privately so as not to taint potential jurors. When he declined, I responded, “I drove by the homes not long ago and witnessed the damage to…” The judge quickly cut me off, announcing, “Wait! Approach the bench.”
With multiple lawyers for both sides gathered around me, I told the judge what I thought of the Buck Center, how I was opposed to it (being against animal research) and because I saw how the Center adversely affected the homes around it. The lawyers representing the Buck Center couldn’t get me out of there fast enough.
But now I’m summoned again. I admit last night I was Googling: “How to avoid jury duty” and “If I reschedule to a Friday, are my odds better for being dismissed?” I even emailed a friend whose husband is a lawyer to ask if he has any tips on how to shirk my civic responsibility. Or at least postpone it until I’m senile.
But my luck may have finally run out and I’ll have to plant my butt in that courtroom seat very soon. Fingers crossed I get a one-day shoplifting trial. Either way, you can bet you’ll be hearing about it.