My First Jury…

My First Jury Duty

1. As a still-new-ish citizen of these United States, I am, at age forty-two, being called up to jury duty for the first time. I am oddly excited by the whole prospect. The fact that Ive been binge-watching The Good Wife for the last few months has almost nothing to do with it, I think.

2. I havent been to Rolling Meadows before, and I manage to take the wrong highway. Argh. From planning to be exactly on time, I will now be fifteen minutes late. I call the courthouse from the highway (safely), and am tempted to ask if I get thrown in jail for this, but restrain myself and simply note that Im running a bit late. They take my name, tell me not to worry, and that theyll see me when I arrive.

3. As I walk up to the courthouse, I briefly entertain serious thoughts about how incredible this whole process is, how lucky we are to have a jury of our peers enshrined in our constitution and laws. Two hundred years of being judged not solely by the wealthiest landowners and those who fought their way to social prominence (often quite bloodily), but rather by mostly average people. I am briefly incensed, reminded of the rants I was reading yesterday while researching this process, from suburban residents of Cook County who didnt like having to go into the scary city to serve on a jury. Check your goddamned privilege, people.

4. Theres a long line to get through security when I arrive, but they wave me through when they see me flashing my jury summons sheet. Im also allowed my electronics, whew. I am anxious about getting bored, so I have with me: a) smartphone, b) laptop, c) Kindle, d) book, e) another book. Perhaps overkill.

5. As I walk up to the jury assembly room, I pass a tall woman storming along, who says quite loudly, Fuck these shitheads! Ah, the majesty of the law.

6. The jury assembly room isnt fancy, but clean and neat, with a glassed-in quiet room attached, and a nice view of the greening trees outside. I am wishing Id brought a deck of cards -- there are little tables in the non-quiet room, and if I started playing solitaire, maybe someone would want to come up and play with me? It would be nice to have an excuse to talk to my fellow potential jurors  right now, everyone is very quiet. Really glad I have headphones with me; being able to listen to music makes this far more pleasant.

7. I have forgotten to get change out of the car, so I have no access to the vending machines for the moment. I think Ill survive until lunch.

8. They show us a fifteen-minute video reviewing jury procedures  nothing I dont already know from watching all those episodes of The Good Wife.

9. Then there is a bit of a decorous mad dash for the outlets, which are somewhat limited. Of four dozen or so people, only eight of us have laptops out at the moment, but we are apparently quite dedicated to our power.

10. 10:15, and nothing has happened yet. We wait to be possibly empaneled. On the one hand, its a bit ridiculous that the best thing weve come up with in terms of justice is to ask a bunch of citizens to hang out and wait for several hours in case theyre needed. On the other hand, its really not that onerous. And on the third hand, as I said early on, the whole jury of ones peers thing is a pretty awesome concept. If theyd just get wifi in here, maybe set up some computers and more of a reading library, perhaps some board games, this wouldnt be half bad.

11. 11:15. Im alternating reading chapters of a somewhat difficult book (which I do want to read) with playing Jelly Splash on my Kindle (one of Anands games, which is a bit addictive). This works well as long as I remember to put the headphones into the Kindle before starting the game. Otherwise I startle the other potential jurors!

12. 11:30. Released for two-hour lunch break! Two miles over to Basrai Thai, where I had a mediocre chirashi sushi lunchbox; I probably should have gone for the Thai food, but somehow, was in the mood for sushi. And now at Starbucks briefly for internet, and then back to the courthouse. Half-done!

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