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Archive for July, 2012

Hello world!

So, I’m writing a blog. I’ve actually tried starting one a few times, so we’ll see if this one sticks or not. The topic for my blogs is undetermined. I don’t think that I’ll be a specific type of blogger, like strictly for mom’s of young children or anything like that. I imagine it will be a hodgepodge of things. You know, a little bit of parenting, a little bit from a teaching perspective, general life observations. We’ll see what happens.

I guess I’ll start out tonight with what I’m going to do yet again tomorrow: JURY DUTY! Before anyone starts reminding me of my civic duty, I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is my SEVENTH time having to go to jury duty. It may even be the eighth, but definitely the seventh, and this is all in the past 14 years. It works out to more than once every two years. I’ve done my civic duty, dammit! I could probably tell you the process from start to finish, even down to the selection of late 1980’s and early 1990’s movies that they show for “entertainment purposes”.

Let’s begin with the drive there, shall we? Since I have been called either 5 or 6 times to the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Downtown Detroit, that’s the criminal court building for out of state folks, I have to take three different freeways to get there. Those that know me know that I hate to drive in most capacities, but city freeways are the worst, especially during rush hour. Once having successfully navigated said freeways, it is then time to park. Once upon a time, you could park in the nearby casino parking structure, get your parking validated, and not have to pay a cent. I think someone blabbed because now you can only park in the casino structure between 6 and 9 am if you are a gold or silver card member of the casino. Who the devil goes to a casino at 6:00 in the morning? No, this was simply to keep smart jurors from receiving free parking, in my opinion. (For the record, I did always go and play a couple of nickle slots at lunchtime, just to keep it honest.)

So, after parking in one of the ridiculously-priced  lots across from the courthouse, you have to enter the building, which is at all times flanked by several people who are there to watch trials and are usually related to those inside. As intimidating as that is, you then need to go through the metal detectors. Things I cannot bring inside the courthouse: Cell phone, any electronics,  makeup of any kind (Except chapstick. I think chapstick is okay, but I’m not sure), metal nail files, pocket knives, tasers, firearms, matches, lighters, needles, pins, anything that could possibly be used in a courtroom fiasco. I can, however, bring in crochet supplies. As a sidenote, you will inevitably wait in a long,line of people who did not read the list on the sheet and are trying to bring in any or all of those things.

After passing inspection that your purse only has a calandar in it and that you are, indeed, an invited juror, you are waved inside only to wait in another long line to check in, then told to go into the cavernous jury waiting room and, well, wait. For a very long time. No, seriously, no one says anything until around 8:30 (you got there at 7:30) and the only information given is that you will wait some more. Then you watch a groovy video on how it is an honor to be selected for jury duty (if only I would be “selected” to win the lottery as much!) and then silence, whereupon the creepy stranger next to you, who hasn’t showered in a while, will then begin to try and make conversation.

After a trip to the restroom, and finding a new seat far from Senor Creepy when you come out, “they” begin to call potential jurors for selection. Most of the times I’ve been there, I haven’t been called up. I’ve only actually been called into a courtroom three times. Once, I hit the jackpot and was selected to sit on a murder trail. Talk about a nightmare! I won’t go into details, but I’d be perfectly content if that was my only one. Ever. I digress. If you just sit for hours without being called, you’re given a lunch break and then if you’re really lucky, you get sent home right after lunch. Sometimes not. They can technically keep you until 4:00.

If you do get called up to a courtroom, the lawyers will then proceed to ask you questions about your background, whether you have relatives in law enforcement (it didn’t work for me), and if you can be fair and impartial. Once, an old man said that he couldn’t be impartial because the defendant was African-American. What was even more surprising was that he was African-American himself! He was excused.

If you don’t get chosen, your day is over. You can go home, tell your family all about seeing the judicial system at work and how it should be mandatory for jurors to shower on the day they serve. If you do get chosen, you have two, three, four, or even more days to absorb our wonderful judicial system, but you can’t tell your family about it all until it’s over. You will also have to do the whooolllllle thing over again (freeway, security, waiting) for every one of those days except that your waiting will be in the jury room in the courtroom rather than with all of the other poor saps downstairs.

I’m not totally discounting our jury system, please understand. I’m just a little fed up that every 18 months or so that greenish-blue letter finds its way into my mail slot. One was interesting. Twice, okay. Three, four, five, six, sevenpossiblyeight times? Really? If only the government was this efficient at everything else. Or not.

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