If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may recall me wining about being called up for jury duty. Before the anti-American hate email and Twitter messages begin flooding in, let me just say: I support America and the criminal justice process.
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I can tell you about My Day As A Juror. Given all the hype surrounding the Casey Anthony trial, you may be expecting to hear about the courtroom stunts puled by attonreys on both sides of the aisle, or the gridlock that the jury found itself in during deliberations. Well, I hate to bust your bubble, but if you’ve ever served on jury duty — you know 12 Angry Men it is not.
In fact, My Day As a Juror only lasted about 15 minutes, before I was excused. So, this article could be more properly titled, My Day Getting Out of Jury Duty. As you can imagine, prior to my report day, I searched what I believe to be the entire website for the “Excused from Jury Duty” form. And turned up nothing. So, I reported at 10:15am for the opening remarks and screening process. Although the forms I searched for I couldn’t locate on the site, I did find a lot of information about inexpensive parking and the jury duty process– which was helpful.
When I arrived, there were about 45 other people waiting to do their civic duty as well. After receiving my juror pass, I was instructed to complete a few forms. No biggie — I am of course completing forms and searching for that one coveted document, “Excused from Jury Duty.” Again nothing.
Around 10:45am, what I can only identify as a “jury duty morale booster specialist” came out and got to work warming up the crowd. To the credit of Franklin County, jurors do have access to wireless internet, computer terminals, a fridge for packed lunches, as well as hot and cold beverages. All of that of course is designed as additional compensation for the meager $20/day (of which $5 goes towards parking) jurors are provided for a minimum 2 weeks of jury duty.
What!?! You’re kidding I thought. You’re really only compensating people $20/day, 3 weeks following your service, and parking is part of that — I gotta figure out how to get out of here for real, I thought.
As Mr. Jury Duty Moral Booster is working the crowd, he’s fielding questions from people about lunch, how far into the afternoon people can expect to be there, trials, and wireless internet access. I thought to myself, “Am I the only jury duty dodger in the bunch? I guess I know what question I have to ask?” And then it comes out: “How do I get excused from jury duty?”
His pace of usual question answering is interrupted. Mr. Jury Duty Moral Booster — noticiably annoyed, takes a deep breath and stammers a reply, “well…why? What’s your issue?” What’s “my issue?” Is this a trick question, I wonder — I have plenty of issues, but in this moment — I recognize my chance.
So I give ’em everything I’ve got, while keeping in mind, the childcare excuse didn’t go very far so child as strategic pawn is out. I say, “I’m self-employed and a member of the press.” Although member of the press falls flat — which I anticipated would be a better get out of jail free card, self-employed turns out to be a winner!
Approximately 15 or 20 minutes after my arrival for jury duty, I was excused. Obviously, I’m not advocating that you dodge jury duty like I did, but with the threat of only making $20/day for 2 full weeks as a juror was enough to send me running. But in the event you find yourself starring down the barrel of jury duty — if you’re self employed, that’s a legitimate excuse to use — and it works.
What jury duty stories do you have to tell? Leave them in the comments section below and come back next week to read about My Day As A Market Research Subject!
- What I learned from my Jury Summons (lostinaseaofblogs.wordpress.com)