Don’t know about you, but I have been sent a note to serve for jury duty three times, but yesterday was the first time I saw the inside of the Orange County Courthouse in Goshen.
9:40am: Wasn’t sure what to expect so I got there early. Good thing because the parking lot was packed.
I beeped going through the electronic screening, but the guard tells me it’s no big deal as they wave the wand over my body. (I wondered if this was a sign of things to come.) The guard points to a room with about 180 plastic chairs all facing forward and only three other people have arrived before me.
10:05am: About 40 people showed up. We sit watching the USA Channel. A sitcom about terrorists. (Was this telling us something?) Finally Terry comes out and in a very loud and staccato voice introduces herself and says that the lawyers of the case are meeting with the judge. She presents an overview of what to expect and asks us to be patient. She collects our jury cards.
10:40am: Terry returns. She pulls six names from one of those bingo-type ball cases. They are led away.
10:50am: We are told to line up and are lead into a small room with 3 rows of more plastic seats. We complete a one-page, 20- question form. You know the type: name, age, how long you lived in the area, your occupation. (You get the drill) And again we wait.
I have been in the courthouse for a little over an hour. I am not sure what I expected, but I didn’t feel particularly patriotic. After all, I was fulfilling my duty as an American. Early on, Terry mentioned that of the people sitting in the jury waiting room probably 70% of us have never served on a jury. She was wrong. Only three of the 40 served.
I remember my dad serving on a jury. Something to do with landlord – tenant problems. We were always the tenant. I don’t think my mom was ever called, and I think it strange that I was never curious as to why. Maybe it would have helped if this topic was discussed at the dinner table or if I had a better civics program in school.
Wouldn’t it be great to have judges and attorneys do scripted trials in schools. Students would be jurors and be told about the law. They would hand down sentences. A much better scenario, then me coming in cold to my first jury trial. It reminds me of having my first baby. The nurse places this newborn baby in my arms and says (not out loud), “Go take care of this child for the next 20 years.” No training. Just go do it.
Tomorrow learn about the lawyers and the dance they do in the jury selection room.