We’d like to excuse juror #8

I got called up to duty yesterday. After a week of tours, demonstrations and speakers, I finally got asked some questions in a court room. Unfortunately, one of those questions led to me being sent back downstairs later on. Now I don’t watch a lot of TV shows about courtrooms so I might get some of this terminology wrong. But here’s what happened:

They called my name for one of the cases that went to trial yesterday. Along with 23 other people, I went to a different floor and after a short waiting time in a couple small rooms, we all were seated together in a court room for what is called the voir dire process. That’s the process of selecting jurors for a case.

I was one of the first eight people questioned by the defense attorney and the prosecutor. Since ultimately I was not selected for the jury, I can tell you it was an OVI case between a young woman vs. the city of Columbus. The prosecutor asked the eight of us collectively what we considered obvious signs that someone is intoxicated; we answered with things like slurred speech, stumbling, etc. She asked what signs make it evident a person driving a car is drunk: swerving, speeding, and the like. The defense attorney then asked us if we felt it possible that an officer of the law could be mistaken about whether or not someone’s drunk if he or she did not administer the proper sobriety tests. We agreed that this could, in fact, be within the realm of possibility, although I knew in the back of my mind I thought it unlikely. But they have those tests for a reason, I suppose. Anyway, after this first round of questions, one woman was dismissed by the defense attorney. I’m not really sure why. A guy my age took her place, and he was dismissed shortly after for saying out loud what I’d been thinking earlier: he said he highly doubted an officer would be mistaken about whether or not someone’s too drunk to drive, and that it was pretty easy to tell. He was excused by the defense.

Then we were all asked if any of us had been cited for drunk driving or any other OVI offense. A couple had; they were asked by the defense if they felt this experience would lead them to be biased in the case. They said they didn’t believe so. We were asked if we ever knew anyone other than ourselves who had been cited. I said I didn’t know anyone directly, but I had known someone who had been hit by a drunk driver. He asked when that was and some details about it; I told him a friend of mine from high school had been struck by a drunk driver in 2004.

“And how is your friend doing now?” the defense attorney asked me.

“Oh, she passed away,” I said. I was not asked if I felt this experience would cause me to be biased as the others were asked, and I was excused a minute later when the judge asked for any dismissals from the defense and the prosecution.

So, that was the end of my time in a court room. I still have the chance to be called up today through Thursday, but considering I didn’t get called up at all last week, I’m not sure it’ll happen. Regardless, it’s been interesting. They sure do go out of their way to keep you happy around here while you wait. I’m starting to think working in the office around here wouldn’t be the worst gig in the world. I don’t even know what kind of background these folks have. Do you have to go to law school to randomly select jurors every two weeks? If so, I’d think they’d be feeling kind of bitter about paying off those student loans.

Jury duty rocks

On Monday, we got to watch “Marley & Me”. Yesterday I opted out of seeing “Star Trek” again and watched a couple episodes of “Veronica Mars” instead, on Eileen’s high recommendation. They’ve got a couple seasons currently streaming on the WB website. It’s pretty good so far, and Eileen swears it starts out “meh” and then gets awesome.

Even with taking a couple customer service calls and answering e-mails for work, it’s been a pretty easy going couple of days. I haven’t seen the inside of a court room yet, but this morning that’s going to change. We’re permitted inside specific court rooms for one hour in the morning, from 10:40 until 11:50. I was going to go yesterday but then got a work call, but today, I’m going to check it out, even if just for a little bit. Yesterday afternoon some of us got a demonstration of the software they use to randomly select prospective jurors in Franklin County. It’s pretty awesome. We got a history lesson on how they used to do it, and it looks like it’s vastly improved. Oh, technology.

Jury duty begins

Today is my first day of jury duty. I will be here for the next two weeks, waiting to be put on a jury for municipal court. We had an orientation this morning, and it sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Yeah, you have to wait in a room for two weeks and you may never see a court room, but you can also take tours of the Statehouse and the Ohio Supreme Court, and they have speakers come in and educate you about different government offices. Okay, that last thing sounds pretty boring, but the walking tours could be nice. They also said they’ll be showing movies in the room, and I’ve got my laptop here. I am also working from here, so my boss will be sending me stuff I can do online, since this week is a pretty hectic week for me to be out. But, duty calls.

There’s two really nice people working here who make it clear that you are very much appreciated, and that they will do their best to accommodate you in any way. There’s a sweet cafeteria here, and they said the famous Katzinger’s Deli is close by. If I get on a trial, I won’t need to report until the afternoon on trial days. Everyone has to be here every day for the whole two weeks regardless if they sit on a jury or not.

In other news, Birthday Weekend was a huge success. I had dinner Saturday with a bunch of friends Saturday night, after a day of shopping and treating myself to a hair cut. I love the cut; they sort of thinned out my hair so it’s still as long as it was, but it’s curlier and the layers I have are more noticeable. Anyway. It was a really good day. A bunch of Caldwell people hung out late that night and my good high school friend Cindy took me out to breakfast Sunday morning. Later I went to see “Crazy Heart” with Owen and Eileen, and after coffee at Cup O’ Joe, I had dinner with my family at my aunt and uncle’s. My dad surprised me by coming to their house all the way from Caldwell just to see me on my birthday. It was a great surprise, and yes, I really was surprised! And “Crazy Heart” was so good. I recommend it.

And at the 11th hour, health care reform passed in the U.S. House on my birthday. Hooray! Here’s to turning 24.