Most people I know dread jury duty and try to get dismissed from serving. I was excited at the prospect of jury duty, but would I be disappointed? I’d get my chance to find out.
When I was called to serve in District Court my father-in-law was in hospice and I had to ask to be excused from serving. A few weeks later, I was once again called. I reported to the Federal Building and was escorted through metal detectors. All prospective jurors were directed to a room with uncomfortable chairs and offered coffee, sodas, and donuts. We waited for over an hour.
At last, we were ushered into the courtroom. By now, we had been there for a total of two hours. When the judge arrived, he asked if we had been allowed to keep our phones, and we all answered “No!” He told us we could get our phones, but had to leave them off while in the court. This caused a stir. Local rules were no electronic devices including phones in court. He was a visiting judge from the northern part of the state and made it clear that he was allowing phones. He gave us time to retrieve our phones.
Once reassembled, the attorneys introduced themselves and gave us some details about the case that would be going to trial. It was a personal injury case involving a tractor-trailer. We were asked to stand if any of the questions they asked applied to us. Some questions were:
- Have you or any member of your family ever been injured in an automobile accident?
- Have you or any member of your family ever been involved in litigation because of an automobile accident or injuries resulting from an automobile accident?
- Have you or a family member ever been denied or awarded monetary compensation resulting from an automobile accident?
- Do you or any family member own or drive a tractor-trailer truck?
- Have you or a family member ever been involved in a automobile accident with a tractor-trailer truck?
- Have you or a family member ever been injured as a result of an accident with a tractor-trailer truck?
- Do you or any family member own or work for a Trucking Company?
- Are you acquainted with or have personal knowledge of the claimant or plaintiff in this case?
- Do you or any family member receive treatment from a chiropractor?
The questions went on throughout the day. We returned the next morning for more of the same. Shortly before lunch, they selected the jury and two alternates. Those of us not chosen were given permission to leave.
I now understand why so many dread being called to serve. However, it has not dampened my enthusiasm. I would relish the experience of sitting on a jury in an actual trial, but I’ll have to make it past the tedious selection process.