Jury Duty

{by alexis} I know a lot of people grumble when they receive their jury summons in the mail. My mother has been on a few juries, and my brother is always going on and on about what a sweet gig it is. So, when I received the missive, I was excited! It’s sort of like getting your admission to Hogwarts! Okay, maybe not, but I was looking forward to it. I served in the jury pool and eventually on a jury the third week of January at the court of Common Pleas, and have only positive things to say about the experience.

First of all, you get out out of work. Don’t get me wrong — I like my job, but who wouldn’t enjoy switching it up a bit! With the summons you’ll receive clear and explicit instructions on how to be excused if you think you’re eligible, in addition to the answers to the questions your mind is already preoccupied with, like parking, payment, whether there will be coffee. So just read your darn summons.

Common Pleas pool service is one week and Municipal Court asks you to hang tight for two. And really, it’s not so bad! They’ve got super comfortable leather chairs, they offer coffee and tea, and even a small kitchen so that you can bring your own food. They play movies during the week while you wait, and there’s a separate quiet room for those who wish to work, or would prefer to stick their nose in a book for four blissful hours on a Tuesday afternoon. Can you guess which group I belong to?

jury duty | wander & whine

I got called for jury selection on Wednesday afternoon. I was finally seated on a jury on Thursday morning, and the case wrapped up by Friday afternoon, including our deliberation.

Once you get up to the courtrooms, you get a lovely view of downtown Columbus.

jury duty | wander & whine

jury duty | wander & whine

jury duty | wander & whine

They’re going to tell you that a real courtroom is not like TV, but I’m here to say they’re wrong! Maybe I got “lucky” on the case, but there was enough drama to keep it interesting. Fortunately, I wasn’t placed on a case that dealt on something like rape or murder, so it wasn’t too disturbing to listen to, even though it was a criminal case. The judge and lawyers were extremely smart, and friendly — even to each other!

Deliberation was an interesting process. It took us about two hours to come to a decision, and everyone took seriously the instructions of the judge. We talked out a million different perspectives on almost every detail of the case. By the time we walked back into the courtroom, I was 100% confident that our verdict was the right one. Before we left, the judge thanked us, and the attorneys allowed us to ask questions about the case. They also asked us a few questions, too.

jury duty | wander & whine

The moral of the story is that your jury summons is not a sentence in itself — take the opportunity to interact with your local government, and learn more about the system we’re all subject to. It’s pretty exciting to see it all in action.

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2 thoughts on “Jury Duty

  1. For over a decade, I was ineligible for jury duty because I was essentially fulfilling the role of a magistrate so there was a conflict of interest. I was never called before then either so have never served. Of course, I have now moved to a different country and I was curious about how it might work here in America. I thank you for your insight. I think serving on a jury would be interesting. My only concern with being called is that I have no one to look after my kids since my husband works long hours and often out of state.

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  2. I agree that jury duty can be fascinating! I was selected for a jury when I was 22–it was an attempted murder/assault case. It was really interesting to see the justice system in process, and I learned a lot from the experience.

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