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Why Jury Duty Gets a Bad Rap

Their sits a man, a man in his early seventies with a balding grey head. In his striped collared shirt and his blue jeans he dawns head phones and an iPod as he rocks out to, what sounds like, country music. With all distracting sounds isolated, the man can focus on his crossword puzzle. “16 Down...” he mutters, “Ovation...”. Apparently, today’s crossword puzzle is oral. Too bad he is not reading the entire puzzle out loud, this could have been a fun group activity. I sit in my corner of the “L” shaped air conditioned trailer and wait; wait for my name to be called, wait to go to lunch, wait for something, wait, wait, wait. I’m at Jury Duty. The Jury Room clerk announces that the only people who will be excused from duty are the ones who produce their own death certificate. I guess I’m not going anywhere soon.

I continue to sit patiently in the grey, unexpectedly, thick padded chair, with my laptop open, catching up on emails and watching my tweets. Apple has just commenced one of their big events where they unveiling new products. Just a few minutes into Apple’s presentation, Twitter became overwhelmed and inactive, overloaded with Apple lovers’ excitement to spread the word of Job. That’s Steve Job. Taking a break from my computer screen while Twitter regrouped, I took in my fellow jurors who sat in our corner of the “L” shaped trailer.

A lot of reading was happening: books, newspapers and magazines. The business men and women, most whom attempted, and with little success (since they still have a pulse), to get out of their day of civic duty, tap away at their keyboards, flip through papers and cross reference information on their iPhones or Blackberrys. The man sitting in front of me is an attorney who is still not sure why legal professionals should be summoned. The man sitting next to him is a commercial airline pilot who just came back last night from piloting an LAX to JFK turn around trip. His name was called, not for jury duty, but because he accidentally left his car in neutral and it rolled out into the street. His subconscious was telling the world, or at least the Court House parking lot, that he didn’t really want to be here. And finally, the man sitting at the table: his beast of a laptop is probably three inches thick when closed. I deduced that he is a high school football coach by the copious notes he takes while watching a game on his laptop. Here we are, your jury selection for the day. All of us anxious to be excused, fearful of hearing our name called out. At least we get to go to lunch early.

Once back from lunch, a trial is in need of a jury. One by one, names are called and people rise from their chair, leave the trailer and head to the fifth floor. One woman’s name was called and her response was: “Ah Dang!”. Why is it that people look at Jury Duty as an unwanted responsibility? Today’s excuse is that people can’t afford to loose a day or more of work. It’s true, but what about when the economy was thriving? Why is it that Jury Duty has always had a stigma around it? I guess in our busy, ever quickening world, who has time for civic duty?