Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jury Tales - Part Three - Unlucky #13

A well-dressed jury
If you've read my earlier post, Jury Tales - Part Two - Give a Little, you know that I went into jury duty with the expectation that my contribution would be little more than showing up. After all, my last jury service only required me to sit and read magazines all day--never once was my name called over the PA to report.

This time was different. This time I was selected from the general pool to a subset of 30 potential jurors. As we stood on our selection  numbers (I was 23, Jordan!), we entered the courtroom in the order that we were selected. The judge gave us instructions to, in numerical order, give our name, marital status, children (if any), occupation, spouse's occupation, and some other stuff.

We were given a brief on the trial that was to be presented to us if were one of the 13 selected from the pool of 30.

First the prosecuting attorney's turn.

Second, the defense's.

I could tell by some of the questions and jurors' answers that the pool was rapidly dwindling down to roughly 20 potential candidates. In some cases people were just too kooky to serve or, in others, too close to law enforcement (i.e. married to an officer, etc.).

I thought for sure I was going to add my name to the list of discarded candidates when I raised my hand to the defense attorney's question, "Does anybody here think that my client is guilty of something?"

I was one of about 4 or 5 that raised my hand. When asked why I raised my hand, I replied, "You've listed a significant number of serious charges against the individual. Surely he committed some sort of grave offense or he would not be here."

Actually, that's not totally true. A fellow juror said that, but that was my thought exactly and I really replied, "What he said."

After the Q & A, we were asked to return to the jury room. It was a little like being in the "stew room" on Top Chef, with all of us wondering who would be selected to serve.

The Bailiff retrieved us back into the courtroom. The judge instructed us "Please stand when I say your name."

This had me wondering: was he going to say 13 or 17 names? If 13, those called would serve. If 17, those not called would serve.

From the lowest juror number to the highest, he began saying names, "Dennis, Sue, Marvin, Marrietta, David, Matt, ..."

The whole time I am counting on my fingers. He says juror 12's name and the next word out of his mouth is "and..."

And. That means the names called are the jury. Those not called are going home.





The moment seems to stop and my heart is pounding. The last juror called was still in the upper 10s, meaning there were at least 10 of us to select from. What are the odds? One in ten? I'd take those odds.





"...the 13th juror is Mike Collins."

It's me. I'm number 13. A whole range of questions comes in to my mind. What about work? Will we be sequestered? How long will this take? Days or weeks? What is about to happen? For a moment I feel like Peeta Mellark must have felt when he was selected as Tribute to participate in the 74th annual Hunger Games.

All I'll say at this point is what followed was a few of the most emotionally draining days of my life. I may post more about my service, but never fully about the case--that would take way too long.

Selected. Me. Unlucky #13.

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