I don’t know how jury duty works in other states, but here’s what happens in California. You get a summons in the mail to appear on a certain date. The night before, you call a number and a recording instructs you whether or not to show up the next morning. If they say you don’t have to go to court, you call again the next night….and the next…and the next…until you’re either told to report or excused. In other words, instead of making people show up and sit around for a week, they only make you show up if the recording tells you to.
Last week the recording told Michael he had to show up. He said the security at the courthouse was tighter than at any airport. He said the case in question was a woman who’d been arrested for a DUI after being stopped at a check point and failing a breath test. He said it took three full days for the defense attorney to interview him.
“Do you have a friend or family member who’s ever been arrested for a DUI?” the attorney asked him, just as he’d asked all the other potential jurors.
“Yes,” said Michael, thinking of a family member very near and dear to us. “He served six months in jail and now has to deal with having a prison record. Drinking and driving ruined his life.”
The defense attorney had Michael dismissed from the jury pool immediately.
But not before he asked Michael another question: “What does your wife do for a living?”
“She’s an author.”
“Of what sort of books?”
At this point, the judge himself interjected and said with a laugh, “Can she get me a deal at Borders before it closes?”
Michael was a bit surprised, but came back with a snappy retort of his own. “No, but she has copies in our garage. Come on over and I bet she’ll help you out.”
The judge cracked up. So did everybody else in the court room.
I hope I can be just an entertaining when it’s my turn to serve.