I received my summons from Superior Court about a month ago and I was excited at the prospect of taking part in the jurisprudence system of my new state, thus fully embracing My Arizona. I immediately got online and accepted my responsibility, no shirking of my duties for this girl, no trying to make up excuses for not going to court but again more the fool I. I now understand the travails involved in actually going to court and sitting in on a trial so I will list the top ten reasons to GO/NOT to go to Jury Duty.
1. The gigantic per diem of $12/day allotted for costs and $0.44 per mile
2. The fabulous hours the court keeps that seem to involve having you arrive and leave in rush hour traffic
3. The mental pressure involved in the actual concentration of the minutia of legalese and the decision process involving a persons life might be more than you think
4. Coffee deprivation, not a good thing for this coffee-aholic, we asked daily if they had coffee for us and nothing . . .just stale water.
5. If anything comes up in that month after acceptance, ie health related your plans will be screwed to hell, plan accordingly . . .do not count on the dates they say. Plan much farther out.
6. The schedule they set is not necessarily true. ie they told us we’d be there from Mon-Thur. and then released . . . not so, the case continued until Friday and we would still be there deliberating if not for our very cooperative group of jurors who were willing to listen to each other and come to a unanimous decision early Friday partly because they wanted it to end. If you have a stubborn group of jurors you could be there until Hell freezes over.
7. The court is notorious for taking breaks, more than I know of anywhere else excep perhaps nursery school. Lunch breaks at 11:45 until 1:30, constant 15 minute breaks for the court reporter to rest, just as we would get moving at a good rate and feel like we’d be making headway it would be time for another break, unbelievable, no wonder the wheels of justice move soooo slowly.
8. Admonition. At the end of the day we were supposed to forget about the case, leave everything there, not talk about the case and move on with life. Easier said than done. Even with the other jurors we were not allowed to speak of the case until all were together, closed in the juror room, and stop talking if the bailiff walked in. Very disconcerting to say the least and for a blabbermouth like myself very hard.
9. You will be under the auspicious control of a judge who doesn’t want you making any little asides in the courtroom. It’s not like TV, where the jury might be given a little leeway of laughing and kibbitzing! No, one of my fellow jurors just whispered under her breath that she was cold and the judge gave us a firm admonishing. REALLY?!
10. You must fight mental fatigue as they repeat, repeat, repeat and you must dig for the gold through all their bullshit, obfuscation, innuendos, objections and perhaps questionable evidence from the police.
So besides of this it’s still a rewarding experience. I feel I’ve helped the wheels of justice roll along. After all, if I was accused of a crime I would want 8-12 jurors who gave a damn to listen to my case unbiased and try to do the right thing. If not for the jurors how would the American justice system work?
©Evelyn Garone 10/22/11