The Verdict is In: Jury Duty Sucks
Why does it feel like you're in captivity while doing your civic duty to decide if someone should be in captivity?
I like control. I know that. I like to have control over every and anything that I can. Most of my fears, stressors and anxiety in life come from lack of control. I don’t like to fly, for example, because I feel like I should be able to stop, pull over and jump out of a moving vehicle any time I’d like. I’m probably not going to, but I like knowing that if I had to, I could.
I think, as I sit here watching a clock creep as slowly has I’ve ever seen it, that is why I am resenting jury duty so much right now. I get it, right? It is my civic duty. I should be proud to live in a free and just country. At the moment, I guess I’m just not feeling so All-American.
Instead, I’m counting by the hours in the Montgomery County Courthouse. So far, I’ve gotten to hear Common Pleas Court’s Honorable Judge Arthur R. Tilson come say hello to the potential jurors, telling us how honored we should be to attend today’s possible hearings. I’ve been greeted in the marshalling room, released to get a “break” that could be anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours, and even got to watch a DVD telling me what it means to be a juror.
I found it somewhat ridiculous that the county hired out Comcast CN8’s Larry Kane to produce a video about jury duty, highlighting all the “no kidding, thanks for stating the obvious” items like how we can’t smoke in the courthouse, we must remain close by and how we shouldn’t talk about any cases in any capacity. Maybe I’m just mad they didn’t hire Patch.
We’ve been told to wear our juror badges, a handy little pinned-on label, all day long with no exceptions and that we’ll be called by a three-digit number for the rest of the day, if we are called at all.
As a busy, working, coaching, volunteering mother of two, I find sitting here all day long to be downright painful. I have a couple million things I could be getting done today. I came, at least, with laptop, iPad, two cell phones and book in tow, just in case I could squeeze in some work. (I am truly typing my column from a sketchy corner behind the vending machines before a grand marble staircase, just because I could find an electric plug there.)
I am hoping we get called. Maybe then we can be dismissed earlier. As a journalist, I find it highly unlikely that I’ll ever be selected in my life to serve. I think the members of the media rank somewhere between lawyers and criminals on the list of “folks we’d rather dismiss.” I thought putting my job title alone on the questionnaire would get me off. Alas, here I sit.
It is likely just the feeling of entrapment that is really bugging me. There is no wireless here, and cell phones (which you are only allowed to check in the lobby, during breaks) get terrible reception. You can sign your life away to borrow an Internet cord, with valid ID. (I literally laughed out loud when they told us this.) My poor little Verizon air card feels like it is operating via a tiny hamster running in its wheel.
If I sit at the right angle and pray to the wi-fi gods, I can get ONE bar in order to check my mail, assuming I’m willing to watch a blank screen for 20 minutes while it loads.
I know, it sounds like I am whining. And, I am. I find it nearly barbaric to hold maybe 150 people captive like this. We aren’t allowed to eat or drink in the marshalling room. If we get called to the courtroom, we have to hand over all of our possessions to the cloakroom. With today’s technology, I feel nearly naked not to be able to use any of it for a whole day.
Somehow, I imagined jury duty to be less painful. I’ve had to come before, but I guess I didn’t have so many responsibilities at the time. I didn’t feel like sitting here in the courthouse for up to eight hours was such a loss.
Now, I watch my to-do list grow and grow, while the clock ticks and my day feels wasted. I’m not good at sitting still, and this hurts.
I hope my day ends quickly. I hope we are dismissed. Or the courts all settle. Or they figure out I’m an editor and suddenly realize their error in calling me here at all.
Until then, I’ll await my own “freedom” and hope my iPad battery lasts long enough to read my iBook.