As some of you have seen from my face book posts my time in jury duty has not been the greatest, its actually been opposite of that- AWEFUL. I feel the need to share my pain with everyone so here goes, starting with Day 1.
Jury Duty Day #1
It’s Monday morning May 2nd, 2011. The weather is cold, gloomy, and snowing actually (in May, REALLY?). I woke up unable to sleep from the night before at 5:30am. I start to get ready for my civil duty as a juror. Let me interrupt by saying that we had spent almost an hour on the computer the previous evening trying to figure out the bus schedule and when I would need to leave and which bus stop I should pick (this will come in handy later). So I’m all ready to go (early, might I add) so I decide to swing by Starbucks before I go to the Metro Transit. I order a Venti (20oz-er) with an extra shot- I knew it would be a long day. I reach the bust stop scope it out a little bit, trying to figure out which bus was mine- 781 is the winner - express service to downtown. I find it, YES! Thanks to the Gov’s I got a free bus pass for the day (hardly worth it for the crap that soon follows my bus ride). Let me make it known that this is my VERY first bus ride EVER, and my very first time being downtown by myself. I learned from that morning that you should always sit by a window on the bus, then you can know where you are (of course, out of 4 seats, I pick the one that has a wall next to me so I can’t see anything). I assume that the first time the bus stops that, that is where I need to get off because according to the bus schedule Hennepin and 4th is the first stop on the route. Come to find out you can request an earlier stop (BOO). So I get off in the wrong place (shocker). I get out my map that Mark so graciously made for me the night before and I stand there, in the snow, trying to figure out where I am. I didn’t want to look like a total tourist so I just start walking, pretending like I actually belong downtown. Remember kids, its snowing. I take shelter in the next building I can find. Once I arrive inside its like a whole new world. There are so many coffee shops, stores, and service providers. Why couldn’t I see this from outside??? Still wandering lost I try and scope my way out. After about 20 minutes I start to get flustered. I realize that if I don’t get there quick I will be late. I assumed that if I was late they would turn me away and make me for sure come back the following day, or even worse, get arrested! Battling a cold, my emotions were running high. I start to panic with the thought of being lost in a strange city and the possibility of being arrested. A nice (but strange) gentleman noticed that I was clearly lost. He asked “where are you headed?” I whimpered, “ I have jury duty and I have no idea where to go”. He pointed out the direction I needed to go. Telling me to go through the skyway then outside. Well, once I reached outside it looked completely different from what I just saw inside. I pressed on in the direction that I was told, and NOTHING. I am now officially late. Tears start swelling in my eyes I go into a building that says some form of governmental thing on it, “At last I found it!” or so I thought. I walk in, show the guy my summons and he says, “Wrong building”. My heart sank. I reached the stairwell and then lost it. I call my mom, sobbing, trying to tell her that I’m lost. As the wonderful lady that she is, she try’s to help me. Clearly not too easy since I don’t even really know where I am. All I really wanted was just someone to be there with my while I fought the streets of Minneapolis. Later on she told me to just breath (of course this was impossible because the cold I had was holding my nostrils hostage). At this point I have snot running down my face, tears smearing my make up, and my hair was wind blown all over the place. I’m sure I looked pretty pathetic to everyone I passed. My mom stayed on the phone with me every time I would reach a new building. I would say, “this one might be it let me call you back” sure enough three more shots later and I finally find the right building. At this point I’m beyond pissed off. It’s my only day off during the week and I’m stuck in the court house. Well my friends, it gets better. Since I ended up being about 25 minutes late I took the last seat available, plus my huge coffee is now an ice cube because I was walking around out side all morning (threw that away). It just so happens that I’m seated next to a walking pharmacy and a radical. I first noticed him when he pulled out his soft cooler filled with prescriptions. First he shot himself with insulin, then took some Tylenol, and after that another cocktail of prescription meds. He continued to drop some of these pills on the floor. The guy next to him showed him that he had spilt, so for the next 5 minutes he picks pills up. “oh, there’s another one!” he proclaims. It gets worse. Not too long into the morning he decides to tell me that we are probably going to get bombed today. After all it is a government building and its for sure there number one target. “I can’t believe they would make us come here the day after killing Bin Laden” he said. I nod my head and give the “oh, ya?” kind of shrug off, hoping he would get the hint that I was clearly not interested in talking with him. He didn’t get the hint. Finally its time for orientation. The director lady shows us a small film of a man and a woman who were called for jury duty. It’s a small act of what it will be like for us. The lady in the end says, “At first I didn’t want to do this, but now I’m glad I did!” and walks away happy (let me tell you, that is NOT how I will be feeling after this). The movie ends and the lady continues talking us through orientation. She explains everything IN DETAIL of how we are getting paid, when we need to be there, what’s expected of us and so on. An hour later she concludes and opens it up for questions… this is when the real idiots come out of the wood work. A large lady in the back of the room stands up and in improper English (to get the full effect please read this with a black lady attitude voice) says, “Ya, I have a question. So how we getting’ paaaaid?” My head immediately falls into my hand because I know that she JUST ANSWERED THIS QUESTION! The lady replies, “You get $10 per day, plus .27 cent per mile from your zip code to ours”. The juror in the back clearly doesn’t get it because she continues to ask, “Well, I rode the bus here do I still get 27 cents per miiile?”. The director, clearly annoyed, replies, “No matter how you got here, whether you took the bus, rode the light rail, drove, ran, walked, or crawled here, you still get 27 cents per mile round trip.” The dumb questions keep coming including one from a girl in the front that asks, “Well what if I show up, but one of the jurors on my panel doesn’t. Do I still get paid?” Are you KIDDING ME? I yell in my head, how is that even a legit question? The director assures her that no matter what as long as YOU show up you will get paid. Then the lady in the back chimes in again. “I don’t know why we getting’ paid only $10/day. I bet you don’t get paid $10/day to be here! She continues on her soap box for another 3 minutes. By this point I was tempted to yell out, “Hey lady, there is nothing she can do for you so please sit down so we can get this day a movin’!” Of course, I didn’t. The last thing she asks is, “Well I have screws in my knees so do I need a note from my doctor to go through the metal detector, cause I can get a note from my doctor!” The director replies, “Ma’am I’m not sure I will find out for you”. The large woman replies, “I’m gonna be going off like a ticking time bomb when I pass through those gates!”. Of course everyone laughs, except me cause not only am I pissed off from my morning commute, but this dummy is prolonging my time in this dreaded room.
Eventually that ends and they start calling people into jury panels. The way the system works is: Every Monday morning a new pool of jurors will arrive. Depending on the case load you may or may not get picked for that day. They start calling people up. The first panel is of 50, then a 16, then a 20... I didn’t get called. I open up my crossword puzzle and wait. Low and behold my crazy neighbor is still chirping about Bin laden. “We shouldn’t have killed him, that money could be used for education and so forth, blah blah blah is all I hear for the next 5 minutes.” Let me also add that in addition to that he would randomly burst out in thought every 5 minutes or so. I would pretend like I didn’t hear him to avoid any awkward conversation. That was NOT ok with him. He would just get closer to my face if I didn’t respond. He must have thought I really didn’t hear him. Finally it’s lunch time 12pm. In fear of getting lost I stayed close to the jury room. Conveniently there was a café right down the hall, WOOFTA! They gave us till 1:30 for lunch. Really? Who needs an hour and a half for lunch. Can’t we just get this day going and over with? I go back to the room, Early cause I definitely don’t need that much time to eat. I walk into the T.V. room (which before I left for lunch was turned to the news) when I go in the T.V. had been changed to Soaps, I look behind me and to my dismay my crazy neighbor was chillin’ in the back row. “Of course he would change it from the news” I thought to myself. I sit down and he, thinking I’m his best friend, goes on to tell me all about the show he is watching, how everyone is related, what there role is, and what the plot of the show is. He clearly watches these WAY too much. He must have got bored with that because he switches his conversation back to politics. Back up on his high horse he starts offending everyone in the room. One by one people would leave. Every time the door closed he would say, “Oops”. As if he didn’t mean to offend them. I wanted to leave but I felt like I was stuck in the corner and that fool was guarding the door. I bared with it until finally they said that they would be calling a new pool of jurors. Another group of 20... I didn’t get picked BUT my crazy friend did so he was gone (finally). I took a new seat next to a group of two people. They looked about my age. One of them got called out so it was me and another boy (Travis? Maybe?) left at the table. The time was now 2:00pm. I assumed they would be done calling jurors by this point because they had to let us go by 4:30pm. No, No, No, No it seemed that I had forgotten that luck was not on my side this day. I of course got called for the next juror panel of 16. We arrive at the elevator and the Clerk tells us that we have been picked for a criminal case but that we would first be going through juror selection. A process where they start out with 16 but then go down to 7 or 12 depending on the degree of the trial. To do this they start of asking you generic questions including, your name, education, occupation, children, their ages and occupations, what you do you in your spare time, if you are involved in any clubs, and if you have any experience with people of other races. After the whole panel is done introducing themselves they get into the dirty details. If you know anyone in the court room, if you know any law enforcement, if you’ve been convicted or anyone close to you has been convicted of a crime. Do you think you could fairly judge this trial based on evidence and facts. Yada yada yada. Well the lady behind me raises her hand and says I just need to say that I feel very uncomfortable judging this trial. The district attorney asks her why she felt that way. She replies (read with a Persian/Indian accent) “I have just been trying not to judge other people and I feel like this would be going against what I feel is right, and I just don’t feel comfortable putting judgment on another human being. Even right now I feel very uncomfortable my heart is pounding and I have a huge headache. I just don’t feel comfortable. AND I don’t feel like if I was picked to be a juror that I could make a decision because I’m really indecisive. I can’t even make decisions for myself. For example I recently got my hair cut and I had to ask 10 people if I should get my hair cut. I just feel that my answer would result in an ‘I don’t know’”. Again, still annoyed here I thought to myself, “really lady? You are how old, 40? And you can’t make a decision, FIGURE. IT. OUT.” Well that ends for about a second. The next question is have you ever felt that you were treated unfairly by the law? A couple people raise their hand including the indecisive one behind me. She get’s called on to explain her situation. She says (don’t forget the accent), “Well once day I got pulled over because I was going only 5 miles over the speed limit but I didn’t know it. And I couldn’t tell him that he was wrong cause I didn’t know I was speeding. He didn’t give me a ticket but I think he just pulled me over because he was having a bad day and wanted to take it out on me.” Really, lady? Come on now… I’m starting to show signs of agitation cause she keeps talking. Other people then chime in about situations where they felt they were treated unfairly, then the spot light moves to me. Early I had answered yes to knowing law enforcement so they ask me if that would affect how I would feel about police being involved in this case. My emotions still kind of running high I explain, “I think that I could judge this trial fairly based on the evidence. But I would like to say this, I’m not sure if this is ok and I don’t mean to offend anyone but I personally don’t feel like police are out to get you. For example (pointing to the lady behind me) she says she was only going a few miles over the speed limit but still got pulled over. Well you were still speeding. Does it matter if I steal one ring compared to a hundred necklaces, I’m still stealing no matter what it is. I mean yea, it sucks when you get pulled over but think of all the times you didn’t get pulled over. No one can say that they have never sped. Right?” A couple people nod there heads and see where I’m coming from. The DA thanks me for my explanation and moves on. I’m pretty sure this rant is what gets me called off the case later on. The time is now 4:30 and thanks to indecisive behind me we are unable to finish questioning which means we are forced to come back in the morning to continue. We are then dismissed. FINALLY. MY day from hell is almost over. Earlier, during my waiting period I studied all of the maps that I had collected during the day- a Google map, a map from one of the buildings I got lost in, and a skyway map. I figure out where the bus will be picking me up and where I need to go. I find it, get on and I’m homebound. Day one finishes off with flowers, a bottle of wine, and Chinese take out accompanied by a card that reads, “I’m sorry your day sucked”. Day one: DONE-ZOE.
Jury Duty Day #2
It’s now Tuesday morning and everything is already 100% better. The sun is shining and instead of being there by 8:15 I get to stroll in at 9:45 (SAWEET!). I decided to arrive downtown a little early just to be safe. I get dropped off (in the right place this time) in front of the IDS tower. Surprisingly I don’t think I’ve been in there. I walk in and its like I’ve entered a whole new city. People are buzzing around, coffee shops are full of people- which today I decided to wait to get my coffee until I reached downtown. I didn’t want to have to throw another one away. I was excited about this trendy spot I just discovered. Anxious to see if I got picked for duty I made my way up to the courthouse. Back into questioning I went. The first person that gets asked a questions is, Shocker, Ms. Indecisive. I decided to time her just to see how long it really did take for her to answer a question. Three whole minutes later she’s done. At this point I’m thinking its going to be a LOOOONG day again. Luckily questioning was over by 10:45. I didn’t get picked for that case (O well)… back to the juror pool I went. I wait again… Lunch time hits and I’m anxious to go back to the IDS center. I scoped out a few lunch hot spots earlier and I was determined to find my way back! I eventually made it, but by this time I was beginning to notice that my shoe choice for that day probably wasn’t the best. My feet were starting to blister (oh, crap) by this point. I made it back to the juror room and sat until about 3:30 when they told us, “No more jurors are needed for the day you can be dismissed”. I hop on the bus later that afternoon and arrive back in Maple Grove around 4:30 (this is when the good stuff starts). Yesterday when I had reached the Transit station people had stood up right away to get off. Well today only a few people in the front got off. I was confused, thinking that maybe I had gotten on a transfer bus instead. So, I stood up and walked to the front. When I reached the third row they stood up. It then dawned on me that everyone was just waiting for the people in front of them to get off. I turned around facing the back of the bus, and with my hand covering my mouth out loud I gush, “Oh my Gosh! I just cut you all off didn’t I???” Everyone’s head nodded. “I am so sorry, First. Day. ON. THE. BUS.!” I shout. Everyone laughs and is sympathetic to me. “It’s ok we’ve all been there” one lady says. Another guy chirps, “At least you actually realized it, most people don’t. If this is the worst thing that happens to me all day, I think I’ll be fine!” Walking away in embarrassment I make it to my car. Day Two: Done.
It’s now day three of Jury Duty. I am still waiting in the Jury Pool. Nothing too exciting has happened thus far. As I walked the streets this morning I commented to myself, “Two things that imperative to downtown, good footwear and an ipod”. Sporting both of the above mentioned I make my way to the court house with Lady Gaga’s Born this way putting some extra pep in my step. I arrive (on-time) and wait.