Jury Selection. I was actually excited about participating in this process until I learned that it also meant going a month without pay. When faced with that reality it became clear that I needed to prepare my reasons to beg off, at least for this trial.
Still, on the morning of, I arrived at the courthouse with the excitement of a kid on a factory tour. Okay, a factory that produces something the kid is at least somewhat interested in. It was a new experience.
Just because it was a new experience did not mean I was to arrive unprepared. As luck would have it I recently purchased a paperback novel and was careful to make sure my ipod had the most recent podcasts and a fresh charge. This was court afterall and if one trial was estimated to take four weeks, then the selection process was likely to go all day.
I could not have been more right.
It took hours just to get inside a courtroom, where the selection process still would not happen. This was just a holding tank. I made myself comfortable and settled in to read my book as this wasn't going to be quick. Coffee was provided to keep the mob from getting unruly.
Eventually some lawyers showed up and so did a few more baliffs (ie. cops). They brought in the accused and a hush filled the room. A hush that lasted about three minutes before people resumed chatting among themselves. I continued reading until eventually a judge arrived. Charges were read, the plaintiff plead not guilty, a list of witnesses was read and then they ushered out the man who now faced a murder charge. The judge stayed a little longer to explain the rest of the process to us potential jurors.
The basic idea was that they would randomly select about twenty people at a time to take into another courtroom to undergo the selection process. This was where the lawyers could challenge or accept a juror as well as the one time we would have the chance to plead hardship, play the senior card or give whatever other excuse for why we could not be a juror. In other words, so long as I stayed in this room, things would work out okay for me and they would end up selecting twenty OTHER people to serve on the jury. Given that there were over two hundred of us, my odds of being selected were a mere one in ten. I could live with those odds.
So the process took all day but I was one of the 'lucky ones' who was not called. I didn't even have to plead my case, which is kind of too bad because I had this fantastic story about the judge who stole Christmas all worked up and ready but whatever. The verdict is in, and I get a paycheque this December.