I got called for jury duty this week. Nobody likes jury duty. I have served on one jury way back when I was in college and it was a unique experience, but I was not eager to repeat it.
As I’ve mentioned before, Howard County is a pretty low crime area. We get maybe five murders a year as compared to Baltimore City where five murders in a week is a cause for celebration. Many counties around us have gone to one day/one trial pools, but the number of jury trials in Howard County doesn’t warrant that. Jury duty in Howard County puts you on call for a week.
Since Monday was Columbus Day, I got a pass for that, but I had to show on Tuesday. They made the appearance time 2 pm, which struck me as odd, but at least I got in a half day of work. They had called a pool of 81 people for a single trial. I was hoping it would be for Brandy Britton, the post-doc hooker, but her court date wouldn’t be until the 24th, so I was out of luck. I would have killed for the chance to explain to the judge why there was no way I could be impartial.
The defendant was accused of stabbing his girlfriend. He was a middle-aged scruffy looking guy and had worn a ratty denim jacket for his court appearance. The dozen or more witnesses were all either cops or medical personnel. Now I understand the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing, but it didn’t seem it would be that hard to prove. When the judge said the trial would last three days, I got nervous in the service. I did not want this trial.
They asked a bunch of questions and we got brought up individually to explain our answers. I tried three gambits to make myself unappealing short of outright lying.
- I knew one of the witnesses. His son and my son both play saxophone in the high school band. They asked if that would affect my level of trust in his answers. No.
- I had been on a previous jury. It was nearly twenty years ago for armed robbery and I voted guilty. Hopefully this sour me for the defense.
- Economic hardship. My company does not pay me for jury duty. I am allowed to make up the time with overtime or take vacation. The judge thought poorly of this excuse and when about 30 people got sent away I wasn’t one of them.
The selection went until 6:30 which meant we were the only people other than security and housekeeping left in the building. In the four hours I was there, I managed to get about two hours of work done, take a nap, and read a couple of magazines. They didn’t call me for the rest of the week, so I am home free for the next five years. Yay, me.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: Tell a jury duty horror story and I will tell the tale of my one and only trial next week.
Update (10/14/06): Here is the story of the trial I would have been on. The guy ambushed his wife and attacked her with a machete. A machete.
Also, the crime scene is about a half mile from my son's school and the attempted murder occured within an hour of me dropping my kid off for class.