I was called up for jury duty a few weeks ago. I wasn’t selected in the end so it was a boring three hours spent sitting on a hard wooden bench that’s left my back stuffed ever since.

There were a hundred of us there in the pool and they had two cases they were selecting for. When you first arrive you’re given your juror number which from then on you are referred to as so your name can remain secret squirrel. Which was handy as I was going to use my sisters name if anyone asked for it. When I received my number the guy told me they had two cases starting and one would go for three weeks and one would go for one week and which would I prefer. I almost laughed but said, one please, thinking, who would pick three? Well just about everyone as it turned out.

So then I proceeded to the hard wooden bench where we watched a video saying what would happen then we listened to the court official tell us again what would happen and then he said, everyone who said they could do three weeks follow me and about 85 people out of the hundred toddled off after him. I thought, wow, they must be really bored or something.

So more sitting and waiting while they went off to the court room and were selected or rejected before they came back and a guy told me it had been a murder trial.

Off we all toddled to another court room and I hadn’t realised (as they don’t tell you) that when you walk in it’s all set up ready to begin so if you get selected you walk straight up to the jury box (from another hard wooden bench) and everyone else is excused and the trial gets started. So be warned, go to the toilet and have a drink before you head in.

This one was for an armed hold-up and as I said my number wasn’t called so I went home and hopefully I’m off the list for a while. They say it’s a random selection from the electoral role but I’m a bit suss on that seeing as how my husband and I have both been called up within six months of each other. He was excused as he’s a sole trader. If I get summoned again I’ll be getting a medical certificate saying that I can’t sit for extended periods which isn’t a lie and was something the judge talked about; if you had trouble hearing, or sitting for a long time or didn’t think you could be impartial or knew any of the accused or witnesses or thought the case would disturb you to speak up. I’d already decided I wasn’t going to do any animal cruelty case, that I was going to say I couldn’t be impartial and I didn’t want to hear or see any nasty things that would scar me for life.

I don’t know how I feel about jury duty really. I mean what if you do hear or see something that really disturbs you and you’re messed up for the rest of your life. You don’t want to be selected for something boring like tax evasion but you don’t want a really gruesome murder either, well I don’t think I would. Also, how can you be sure a juror really is impartial? I was feeling pretty pissed off myself that I had to go and waste my time because some dick head couldn’t just stay home and behave himself. I know, innocent until proven guilty and all that but if you’ve had to take time off work, travel on a stinky bus and sit on a really uncomfortable seat because you’ve been threatened with a fine if you don’t and then have to do that for three weeks or more, well you mightn’t be feeling fondly about the situation. Maybe jury duty should be a job where people are specifically trained to be jurors or maybe the judge should just make the decisions. Although you only have to have been watching the news lately to see how well that can go!

Anyway I banked my $8.00 travel expenses cheque they sent and hopefully I won’t hear from them again. Duty done.


19 thoughts on “Summoned

  1. LOL @ using my name …. or did you mean poor Min? I get summons here but don’t have to serve because I’m not a citizen. The manservant seems to get called once a year – it’s hard to find citizens and non-criminals here in DC .

  2. I don’t believe jury duty selection in the US is random either. In Minnesota I used to get called every three to four years, while friends who’d live in the state their entire lives had never been called. I suspect it was because I was an Asian who could speak fluent English in an area that was 97% white. They look for “racial balance” in juries, though I was selected only once to serve, and it was a trial for a man who had violated his parole by moving out of state without telling his parole officer. (We found him guilty after just three hours deliberation, though I have to say it felt like three years. Some people just love to hear themselves talk, even when it was painfully evident the argument was over.)

    Isn’t juror pay awful, though? For three days of sitting in, I got $12 US. Minnesota was much more generous. There I got paid $28 for four days.

    • Lol – racial balance was not a consideration this day. Im pretty sure we were 100 (mostly middle aged) white people. Pay is much better here – $106 per day plus travel allowance then if you reach ten days and are employed it goes to $300 per day.

  3. I have been called up at least three times. Once when you could use being a mother of small children an excuse. Now, I am a teacher and can be excused! I don’t know if I would want to be on a murder trial – not sure I could live with the details known afterwards.

  4. I would have thought that if you asked for the one week case they’d give you the three week case and vice versa.
    I had a case where this guy stole a three pack of underwear from a Woolworths, except he was a repeat offender, having been caught stealing a three pack of underwear previously.

  5. I’ve been called twice, but never empaneled. I know too many people, good and bad, to actually sit on a jury. My wife, however DID sit on a jury … and how they ever came to a decision is beyond me!

    $4300 plus travel pay for missing work for three weeks? Sign me up!

    • I know the murder case I could have been picked for was about a guy who murdered his girlfriend by beating her to death. I really don’t need to hear about that – or see pictures of it.

  6. Ooh, I’ve never heard anyone talk about jury duty over here before. It sounds like it’d be so boring, but I reckon I’d do it anyway – it’s one way to contribute to society I guess. I don’t think I could sit in on an animal welfare case either though…I sat through about 15 minutes of ‘Earthlings’ before I had to turn it off because I was crying too hard to see anything anyway.

    • I think there would be a lot of boring bits but I thought I could handle one week.

      There’s no way I would ever watch Earthlings! Be the end of me. I never thought I needed to as I don’t use animals in the ways they talk about anyway. I don’t even go to Melbourne Cup lunches or watch it as I’m not into animals as entertainment. I think the people who should be watching it aren’t.

  7. a couple weeks ago I realized i haven’t been called for jury duty in awhile so i’m sure it’s coming soon. i used to get called almost to the day that i was eligible again. i have since learned to reschedule to the holidays – because most of the cases settle without going to trial. it’s virtually impossible to get excused from jury duty here. one time i got selected for a case but raised my hand and said, “Yeah… I think he’s guilty” (which I still believe – domestic abuse and his eye contact with the jury was making me want to jump over the bench and stab him)… so I got off that one too. In theory, I tainted the entire jury pool and they all should have been dismissed – but I have no idea if that happened.

    • Lol, well they were walking around calling out – is there anyone here who wants to get out of jury duty. One old guy came in and had to sit with his leg sticking out to the side as he had a knee injury and they told him to go home as he’d have trouble getting in and out of the chair. Least of his problems as far as I could see because he was as deaf as fuck!! They did say that he’d get another summons in twelve months and to go and get a doctors certificate.

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