I Survived Jury Duty--Again

Yes, for the 8th--or is it the 9th time--I went to Jury Duty yesterday and lived to tell the tale.

Long day. Up at 4:30 because it was raining, and downpours on the freeways at rush hour means you leave at an ungodly hour to get to downtown without driving like a maniac--like all the other drivers on the freeways.

I left home at 5:30, got to parking garage--the only one that charges you $6.00 which is what Jury Duty pays by the day. In the past I've had to pay $20.00 to $25.00 a day. (You only get $6.00 for Jury Duty unless you get stuck on a long trial.

Arrived at the garage at 6:20. Sat in the car and had my coffee and a piece of toast I'd brought.

Still raining when I left the car and headed to the Jury Assembly room at 7:00. Unfortunately, the new Jury Assembly room in the Jury Summons I received hosted 11 feet of water during Hurricane Harvey so it's closed while they renovate it.

A nice gentleman on the street happened to be a building engineer in the building where Jury Assembly is now being held so he directed me there.

Hurry Up And Wait

Jury Duty is like the military. It's always "hurry up and wait." I took a seat and started making notes as I waited. Chatted with my seat mate who had driven in from Baytown which is east of Houston.

Half the room filled before 8:00. After 8:00 which was the deadline for arriving, the stragglers started arriving. Announcements were made. A film starring the Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel was shown. He thanked everyone for showing up, etc.

Forms were collected. More waiting. Forms were collected from stragglers. More waiting. Then the Bailiff arrived and pulled the first panel of 65 prospective jurors around 9:45. Of course I was in it.

Moved Around And More Waiting

After our names were called, we were herded into another room where we stood and waited. Then we were assigned Juror Numbers. More standing and waiting. After a bit we were brought up from the assembly room in the basement to the ground floor. More standing and waiting.

Then the Baliff led us outside--drizzling rain--and walked us a couple of blocks to the Civil Courts Building. I found out that we were to be jurors, if selected, for a criminal case, but the Criminal Courts Building had also been damaged in Hurricane Harvey so both courts were meeting in the same building.

We arrived at the Civil Courts Building, up the broad flight of steps, into the lobby, and came to a screeching halt for the security check-in which was just like at the airport except we had to take off our shoes. We don't usually do that any more at the airport. Shoes, belts, watches, etc. into the big tray, through the screener, walk through the metal detector. Then we were hurried to get our stuff and get out of the way.

More standing and waiting while all 65 of us got back into our shoes, belts, etc. Then we were herded to the freight elevator. More standing and waiting while we were taken up to the 16th floor in batches. Four trips to get us all up there.

Arrived at 16th floor about 10:15. Know what we did then? Right. More standing and waiting. They lined us up. We waited. Bailiff came out and said it would be a while. Lawyers went in and out of the courtroom and paraded up and down the hall. The defendant and his lawyer were trying to make a plea deal in the case we were to participate in.

All 65 of us would be subjected to the "voir dire" process to make sure we could be impartial jurors were we selected. I say subjected because in one trial in which I was unlucky enough to be in the jury panel. Lawyers questioned jurors while the defendants--all 10 of them mean-looking and scary--observed. Your name, home address, occupation, your spouse's name, address, occupation, how many children you have, etc. All that private information you try to keep private around strangers. Especially strangers accused of conspiracy to commit murder!

Anyway, it was great people watching from the woman lawyer in 6 inch heels and a tight sheath dress with a slit up the back that ended about 4 inches from her butt to the male lawyer wearing tangerine orange trousers. (I made lots of notes about lawyers, defendants, and jurors!)

Finally after sitting on the floor and waiting forever, we were lined up again and taken into the courtroom, 16 at a time to file the rows of hard, wooden benches.

Gavel by Jason Morrison, SXC
The Judge thanked us for being there, said he had some good news for us, and he immediately declared a short recess!

While we waited for him to come back, we all sat there making jokes. Most of the jokes centered around the good news, i.e., "we're all getting tickets to the Astros playoff game."

The Judge came back in and announced that the defendant had accepted a plea deal. We restrained ourselves from cheering.

The Judge thanked us again and said he'd like to shake hands with each of us. To our amazement, he actually came into the Jury Box and did that! We were released from Jury Duty.

Takeaway Truth

I walked back to the parking garage, paid my $6.00, and drove home. When I arrived, I promptly took a nap.

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