Civic Duty

by Philip Yabut in

Recently, I found myself back in DC Superior Court.  Not for "court-sitting" or for a client, but for jury duty.  Not even lawyers can get out of jury duty in DC, though it's a point of contention if many actually get selected for a trial.  In DC, any citizen can be chosen for jury duty as long as there is no felony on their criminal record, and no one can be chosen again for 24 months.

Here's an account on how my day went.

8:10 am -- I got in line outside the Jurors Office with about 30 others waiting to check in.

8:25 am -- After checking in, you get sent to the jurors' lounge to wait until you are called for a trial.  The lounge is brightly lit and fairly comfortable with a few amenities, including free wi-fi Internet access and a business center with access to fax and copy services.

8:52 am -- Finally watching the orientation video.  It's long.  There's an explanation of voir dire and a note not to take it personally if counsel uses a peremptory challenge to strike you.

10:00 am -- Watching the orientation video.  Again.  For the "9:30 group."

11:26 am -- The disembodied intercom voice finally calls a bunch of people out of the lounge to get empaneled on an actual jury.

12:00 noon -- Still here.  Just wrote a blog post about Chick-Fil-A.

12:42 pm -- I can hear someone snoring loudly, even though I'm wearing headphones.  A woman chuckles.

1:00 pm -- Lunch.  Had a conversation with a client.

2:35 pm -- The disembodied intercom voice tells all jurors to assemble in the lounge for a "status report."  People wonder if it means we're getting dismissed for the day.

2:47 pm -- Dismissed!  For two years!

Without jurors, our justice system does not work.  When you get a jury summons, don't just throw it out or ignore it -- show up.  Or use the proper court procedures to get out of it if you absolutely need to.

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