Donna does jury duty…..

Your city needs you.....

Your city needs you.....

When I told those around me at work that I had jury duty on Friday, the response was unanimous…”Didn’t you just do that???”  Well, that depends on your definition of  “just”. The answer is, in Baltimore City….you can always count on them to call on you once a year to do your civic duty. I know people who live in the surrounding counties who have never been called. How does that happen??

Anyway, it was my turn in the barrel last week, so to speak, and my number was just low enough to be called….they wanted numbers 700 and under…mine was 653. Only 47 places away from not having to show up at 8 AM. 

I tried leaving the house at 7:30, but got out a little late….I wasn’t too worried because I know fro experience that NOTHING HAPPENS for the 1st hour or two, except them calling people down to get their jury form documented(“See boss? I really was on jury duty…”), and to claim their $15  pay. It used to be $10…cost of living increase I guess. They say if you don’t want the money you can refuse it. I felt kinda bad, because I know the city could use the money….on the other hand I’m having to pay for all day parking. I went down, had my form stamped, and when they offered me the money, in the words of Harry Chapin…”I stashed the bill in my shirt.” Yeah.

I made the mistake of not going immediately to the “quiet room”. And if you’re not in the quiet room, it seems to be just fine to talk in extremely loud tones to the person next to you as you fill out your forms. “Have I ever been convicted of a crime?? Hell no, isn’t that why I’m here, to convict someone else?” or “He did that? Oh no he didn’t!”  to much loud laughter. But this is all allowed in the not quiet room…even if everyone else is trying to listen to the announcements on the screen. No problemo.

So after catching up on this lady’s life for a while, I left for the QR… in sorority rush days, this meant questionable reputation…for our purposes today it means Quiet Room. And no doubt about it…a more civil crowd is here….there are actual tables! And two nice sofas! Rewards for being good, quiet people! And it was here that discovered that there is wifi at the City Courthouse. Yes, indeedy, if you are willing to pony up the $5.95(and I was more than willing, didn’t I just score $15??), you can have access on a day pass to Courtroom Connect wifi. Seriously I was so happy when I discovered this,(and no one tells you of course)…but there was a single one-winged fly in my iced tea…I didn’t bring a power cord for my computer. Hmmmmm. I had charged up the battery and taken a dvd, thinking, “OK, it’ll have enough juice to play a single dvd, surely.” I know… idiot-talk. So I sent out a couple distress emails, begging others to bring me a power cord….but noooooooooo. No one could(or would) help me. So I played around for a while online…checked my email…and the voice starts calling groups of jurors to actually do wht they’re there to do.

Jurors numbers one through 199 please proceed to Judge Picky’s (made up name)courtroom, down in the hall in room blah blah blah.” And then closer to lunch “Jurors numbers 200 to 399 please report to Judge Fussy’s(again made up) courtroom in room blah blah“…and then, silence  until lunch. “Jurors are free to leave for lunch, please be back by 1:45“….I took my  money, went to the garage down the street and paid the nice man who let me park there, even though I had no cash this morning…but I had promised to return at lunch with the moola. I did, and then trudged a few blocks to “Plates Cafe” on Charles Street…which is where the old Women’s Industrial Exchange Cafe used to be. Had a splendid grilled salmon BLT, made phone calls, and went back to court, stopping in a little shop to buy some $5.95 headphones to hear the movie I brought along. (Obviously I forgot a lot today…no power cord, no money, no earphones…)

I got about halfway through the movie “Katyn”, until ….lights out….that’s it for you baby. No power cord, no conclusion to your movie. It’s now about 3:00, very quiet and warm in the room, and there’s now room on the comfy sofa as the woman who was on it, gets the call…”Would jurors numbers 400 to 599 please report to Judge Tardy’s(yes-madeup) courtroom across the street.”  We all know for these jurors, this is bad news. When you are called at  3PM for cryingoutloud, you know you’re in for a repeat performance day, if you are actually one of the 12 selected to serve. Because what are the chances they can pick a jury, start and finish a trial by 5:00 today? Slim and none, that’s what.

However, when this unlucky QR lady leaves, I get the sofa. No computer, and I’ve finished my book, so what’s left? That’s right…sleep. So I have a delicious nap, until the voice breaks in one more time…it’s now about 4:30, maybe a little after….”Thank you for your service jurors, you are dismissed.” Even in the QR, a cheer breaks out among the 5 of us who are left. We’ve done our civic duty….had a great lunch, saw half a movie, and had a nice nap. See you back here next year!

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Donna, The last time I had jury duty, it was a Monday and they said we would be busy all day. Well, not a single person was called all day long !! So I watched two movies in an uncomfortable, crowded and noisy jury waiting room. Then from the heavens above a voice came to say ,”Thank you for jury service you are excused for the day”.

  2. I hear you, Donna. Just ask Howard about my experiences with jury duty — I think I actually scared him that he really shouldn’t have married the mad woman I became. In my last two jury duty experiences, I was involved in a two day voir dire in an unventilated court room with low lighting, hard benches, etc. etc. etc. In the old courthouse, they have turned off the water fountains and have a water cooler — but alas — no cups! And you have to have a bailiff escort you to the restroom, harkening back to kindergarten days when the teacher had to take you. No Qrs, soft sofas, dvd’s or email for me.

    And then you get to come back the next day and do it all over again. Sometimes think the victims are treated better than jurors, and that’s why so many people are AWOL. Time for a WBAL expose!

    PS loved Stan’s video. Tee Hee.

  3. Sounds like a long day.

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