Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jury Duty Recap

I reported to jury duty today, and spent a whole lot of hours sitting around, before it got to the good stuff. And the good stuff was only good for like 5 minutes, before I realized it was going to be more hours of sitting around. So, although I did not have to go to work, I did not enjoy my particular jury duty experience all that much. Allow me to explain a bit about the Jury Duty system in Bergen County, just in case you ever get called in.

The day starts bright and early, and you get to sit in a room with 150 other people to fulfill your duty as a citizen. The number of trials scheduled for that day and whether cases are resolved without the need to go to trial or not determine whether they need you on a jury. Thank god I had a magazine, a book, and my trusty iPhone to keep me entertained during all of that sitting around.

By the time lunch came and went, I still hadn't been called, so I thought I was going to be safe. I was wrong. With 2 more hours to go before the end of the day, a case needed jurors, and I was one of the 25 names randomly picked for this particular trial. We shuffled out of the room and into the judge's court. Let me just say that this can all be a very intimidating process, but I LOVED my judge. He joked around, he asked each jury member what TV shows they watched, he basically tried to lighten the mood and get to know his potential jurors. From the 25 that gets pulled into court, they only need 8. This is where the questioning/weeding out process begins.

And so they randomly pick 8 to fill the jury seats. From here on, it's just a very long process of questioning each jury member, while all of us have to sit there and listen to/watch the whole thing. The questions are a gamut of things, from your occupation to asking whether you know any of the people involved in the trial, to your bias to the particular case. And when the judge chooses to excuse someone (some of the excuses were: kids at home, taking care of sick mom, not getting paid to miss a day's work..) or the lawyers choose to dismiss a juror for whatever reason, then they randomly choose another one of us from the group to take their place. And so on and so on until everyone is satisfied with the people making up the jury.

Long story short, I got put on the jury, but was weeded out in the questioning process because the trial was scheduled to run into my trip to LA next week. THANK GOD. I mean, I think the jury system is indeed an important part of the legal system, and if I were to ever be involved in a trial in any way, I'd like fair jurors on my case. But, I was glad to be dismissed in this case just cause of the timing of it all. All in all, it was a very unproductive day, but I'm glad I got it over with. It's one less thing I have to worry about, for the next 3 years, anyway.


sang said...

You get called in once every 3 years? Also, if you were picked does that mean you HAVE to cancel your trip with no compensation?