First, a word from our new sponsor:
Grass Jelly Juice
I found this stuff yesterday when I went to lunch with some Asian co-workers. We ended up stopping off at a local Asian market on the way home, where I saw boxes that said "Grass Jelly Juice". Intrigued, I asked my colleagues about the stuff. One being Japanese and one being Cantonese, neither knew what it was. A little further asking around yielded the information that it is a Taiwanese drink and that it seems to be generally unpleasant, but no word about how it is made or how "grass jelly" figures in the contents.
I spent about half of yesterday fulfilling my obligations to the Republic in which I live by responding to a jury summons. It was a new experience for me. I got a jury summons once about 5-6 years ago, but they eventually determined that I didn't need to show up at that time. I did this time, however.
I really was expecting the worst. I grew up in one of those towns that has a lawn in front of the county court house with a monument to the valiant dead of the Civil War... with the court house being not much younger than the monument. Visiting the court house is an experience in sitting on early to mid-20th century furnture in rooms with battleship linoleum floors, tall ceilings, lots of cornices, and off white walls. Having heard that responding to a jury summons often involves a lot of sitting around, I was afraid of a lot of down time in hard, uncomfortable wood or metal furniture. That the summons also said "report to Jury Assembly Room Basement B-1" did not inspire confidence either.
The reality turned out to a lot better than I thought. The room looked like it had been remodeled in the last 5-10 years. Yes, the walls were off white...but a very modern egg shell gray/white with wall to wall carpeting, modern office chairs, and even Internet terminals along two walls. I neglected to bring a book in my rush to get out the door, but, there was an abundance of other reading material. I settled on a couple issues of Fortune Small Business and that day's issue of the newspaper. With that, I was on my way.
There were three trials that were supposed to seat juries yesterday: one at 9:30, one at 10:00, and one at 10:30.
The 9:30 trial called down that they were running late and would not need a jury. The 10:00 and 10:30 trials both needed jurors, though the jurors were picked a little later than initially expected.
Selection for a jury is more or less a lottery process, I discovered. By luck of the draw, I was not picked for either of the two trials that needed juries. I was therefore excused with my service fulfilled.
One lady was not so lucky. She was in the group of jurors for the second trial. She was evidently out of the room when they announced her participation because the bailiff for that court called down on the phone, evidently annoyed that she wasn't in the courtroom with the other jurors. The clerk in the assembly room told her to get herself up to the courtroom immediately. She left, only to return a short while later. This time the clerk told her that she would have to reschedule her jury service because the judge had already sworn in the rest of the jurors and was NOT going to do that again just for her.
She looked like she was ready to spit nails when she heard that. I sort of see her point. I'd been sitting in the same chair for better part of 3 hours by that point, and I did not want to go through that experience again on another day if I didn't have to. Still, being a juror is ultimately serious stuff... and I understand why they take it seriously.
We also got to see an informational video about "being a juror". It was your average sort of industrial training film. I half expected a Simpsons-esque presentation of "Hi. Welcome to 'I, The Jury'. I'm Troy McClure. You might remember me from other informational legal videos like 'So, I've got to attend traffic school' and 'That's mine, not yours: a small claims court story'."
I see how being a juror is important but the video mentioned that "jurors often keep in touch long after the trial is over." I don't know about that.
I'm glad it's all over an done with, for twelve months at least. I have a major deadline here at work next Wednesday. Speaking of that, I need to get back to work...
on 2004-09-23 at 11:52 a.m.
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