Monday, August 23, 2010

Val does jury duty!

Well, I was FINALLY summoned for jury duty! I have wanted to go for years, and I was summoned to the criminal courthouse at 26th Street. I always meant to visit this courthouse during law school but never found the right time. The chief judge told me that today was the right time.

I figure today's post will read best as a timeline. So here's how I spent my day:

7:15 a.m. - Leave house.

8:30 a.m.
- Arrive at 26th Street courthouse. Breeze by parking attendants without being checked for jury summons. Breeze through attorney check-in line without anyone checking my attorney ID badge. I guess I must look like I know what I'm doing.

8:35 a.m. - Check in on jury floor and begin waiting. I notice that at least one of my fellow jurors looks like a serial killer.

9:40 a.m. - Watch video on jury service, partially narrated by my boss, Chief Judge Timothy Evans. Continue waiting while other panel numbers are called.

12:00 p.m. - Begin eating lunch (packed lunch of almonds, whole wheat Fig Newtons, Au'some Fruit Nuggets, and a square of 60% cacao chocolate).

12:05 p.m. - My panel number (2) is called and I have to stop eating lunch. We are lined up and marched over to the criminal court building, room 202 (one of the "space ship" courtrooms). The judge explains the case, which involves a young Hispanic male accused of beating and spitting on a police officer. The judge begins asking general questions of the group, at which time two people make sad attempts to get out of jury duty. A female declares she has "already decided" the case, and a male attorney claims he is prejudiced against the prosecution by virtue of his past criminal defense work.

1:05 p.m. - Dismissed for lunch. Finally scarf down my Fig Newtons, etc. Call my judge to see if he knows the presiding judge (Hon. Charles Burns), which of course he does. My judge also knows the attorney who tried to get out of jury duty. Whoops! I also visit courtroom 302 (read the book) and one of the big old fancy courtrooms on the fifth floor.

2:00 p.m. - Return from lunch. The judge has the defense attorneys shuffle our summons cards and 28 out of the 45 are called into the courtroom (which, again, looks like a space ship). I am called. The judge asks questions of each of the potential jurors, including past lawsuits, criminal charges, dealings with police officers, etc. I am clearly not going to serve at this point because I work closely with police officers at the Daley Center.

3:30 p.m. - Questioning is completed, the parties go into the judge's chambers to pick the jury.

4:10 p.m. - The parties emerge and the judge says that they have mostly decided on the panel but need one more juror. The judge picks a few more names and asks them the same questions as he did to the rest of us. When the parties agree on the extra juror, it seems they have a complete set. The judge calls the names of the selected jurors (I am not called), and after they have gone into the jury room, the judge tells us that our duty is complete. He is about to release us when a note comes out of the jury room that one of the jurors can't serve. I recognize him as one of the only jurors who traveled as far as I did, so I assume he is just trying to get out of it because he lives so far away.

4:30 p.m. - The judge begins questioning additional people to fill the slot of the lost juror. All of us glare at the one who gummed up the works. I turn around and joke with the other jurors about how we weren't wanted. Finally another juror is chosen and we are able to leave. I ask the defense if they rejected me because I work with cops, and they say yes. I figured. I walk out chatting with two other jurors, one of whom is an attorney. We decide that it is interesting that both young, Hispanic male prospective jurors were not selected (though two older Hispanic males were).

4:45 p.m. - Leave parking garage.

6:05 p.m. - Arrive at home, eat sushi dinner with Dave!

Even though I didn't get selected, I did have at least one definite verdict - being a juror candidate means a lot of down time. At least I got through a lot of my Somme book.

One other thing to add is that the neighborhood around the courthouse wasn't as bad as I'd heard it was, but it definitely got worse as I neared the interstate. Basically when you go north of the L tracks, you see a lot more broken-down businesses, boarded up homes, and random people walking around shirtless. Oh well - jury duty is over for this year!

1 comment:

Sara Sherman said...

My Bus law teacher in high school arranged a field trip for us to 26th & California. When we arrived at the building, he said "roam around....peak in courtrooms and when one seems interesting stay and listen". How nice. Hauling a bus load of high schoolers from the suburbs to a place like that and "let them roam". We were lucky nothing happened.