A Responsibility I Managed to Escape by
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(289 Stories)

Prompted By Jury Duty

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As I watched the news this morning, there was speculation about finding jurors for Trump’s upcoming trial in Florida and for the grand jury about to be selected for his Georgia trial. Would it be possible to seat a “jury of his peers,” people open to his guilt or innocence? I know I could never serve on any jury involving Trump. There is no way I could be unbiased.

I know my attitude is wrong. People are entitled to jury trials, and I would probably be a good juror (except for Trump).

I have never been on a jury. Reflecting back on my history of jury summonses, I came close only once. When I had young children with no one to watch them, I prayed I wouldn’t be called. I guess I was lucky because my first experience didn’t happen until they were older. It actually turned out to be a nice day off work for me. My summons was at the local court house. After sitting there all morning, we prospective jurors were told to take a two-hour lunch break. I ended up at Old Orchard shopping mall, close to the court house. After returning from my shopping spree, we were all dismissed.

My next encounter was too close for comfort. This time, I reported to a court house in downtown Chicago. Again, I could take a day off from work, but being selected to serve would have been a logistical nightmare. I was directing a preschool and having to miss more than a day of work would have been challenging. I sat for hours, ate a bag lunch, and tried to read to pass the time. When I was called to be part of a prospective jury, my heart sank. As the judge interviewed us, it was clear that no excuse mattered. I sat trying to mentally rearrange my life, which at this point also included helping to care for my twin grandchildren with disabilities. At the last minute, the case settled.

My final summons arrived when I was recovering from back surgery. I appeared downtown again, this time with a doctor’s note explaining my inability to serve. The clerk recorded this and I was sent home. I don’t know what she wrote down next to my name, but I never received another summons.

Now, I guess I’m too old to be called. I also know that if I were, there would be no way to shirk my civic responsibility. My daughter received a summons recently, which would be a disaster for her job as a college professor and therapist. Her daughter with disabilities will become my responsibility if she is selected. Once again, I find myself hoping she isn’t chosen.

I know my attitude is wrong. People are entitled to jury trials, and I would probably be a good juror (except for Trump). Still, getting to a court in a terrible neighborhood would not be easy at my stage of life. I guess I will never have a good story for this prompt, only a bunch of sorry excuses.

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Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: been there, funny, well written

Comments

  1. I understand your reasons for wanting to avoid serving Laurie, and your honest admission that your excuses are sorry ones, and I’m with you on Trump. But I myself found jury duty fascinating the several times I served, although missing days at work was a disruption.

    The judge in one of the cases was especially informative as after the verdict when we were free to leave, he invited us to stay if we wished and he would answer any questions about that case and the process in general. The lawyers for both the defense and the prosecution stayed as well and we had a fascinating, unexpected off-the-cuff civics lesson!

  2. pattyv says:

    Laurie, totally related to this. Never wanted to serve. Perhaps they should change it and just screen all the folks who want to serve, there’s plenty of them. I’m sure they could work out a way to really devise a system to end up with 12 enthusiastic but impartial jurors. Reluctant participants aren’t exactly the best.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    My experiences are similar to yours, Laurie. Called a few times, but never served for various reasons. And like you, I am not impartial about Trump – could a “jury of his peers” be found anywhere in this country? I doubt it.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    You are not alone in dreading the inconvenience of being a juror. The few people I know who have had to serve have found the experience interesting and enlightening to work with other jurors to sort out the case—and have ended up proud to be part of this civic duty. But I also was always relieved to be excused!

  5. Suzy says:

    I know your attitude is a common one, but I think you would find it interesting, especially now that you are retired. Maybe you will be called again, and maybe you will serve. Who knows?

  6. Jim Willis says:

    Laurie, I’ve always felt that one of the most challenging aspects of trying Trump will be to seat a jury who can somehow be open to hearing both sides of the case. I hope that will be possible, but I have my doubts, given the polarizing figure he is. As for your own reluctance to serve on juries, it is very understandable. In the one time I made it into the courtroom’s jury pool in Boston, I made a point of letting the attorneys know I was a journalist. That was enough for the prosecutor to use a peremptory challenge to dismiss me.

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    The courthouse here in Chicago is at 26th and California, which is not a nice place to be. Getting there for me involved the Brown Line from the far north side, then a bus to the courthouse; I was NOT bringing my car down there. Had I been empanelled for the murder trial, it’s have been a logistical nightmare.

    It’s right next to the Cook County jail, though, which is nothing if not efficient.

  8. John Shutkin says:

    There’s nothing wrong with your attitude about jury duty, Laurie. It is a burden, and one that affects people disproportionately. (I’ve been told that some poor people don’t even have nannies for their children; who knew?) Plus, I am ambiguous on the benefits of juries, as I’ve indicated in a few of my other comments on this prompt.

    That said, if there is one jury I’d love to be on, it would be Trump’s (or any of the insurrectionists). I would swear that I would not let my personal political beliefs interfere with my ability to judge the case fairly and objectively. I would also swear that I have a bridge to sell you between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

  9. The two male farmers who caused our jury in Champaign, Illinois, (“So many girls named Ashley”) to be hung were definitely older than you are! So don’t be so sure you won’t still be called and have a chance to serve. And if you are called, just remember that most of what you find in that “terrible neighborhood” you mentioned are really good people. Which I’m sure you already know.

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