Once upon a time, a twenty year old girl was called in by the government to sit on a jury. However, due to certain circumstances, she could not attend and had to reschedule. The rescheduled jury duty came six months later in September, and thus our story begins…
Okay, I’m sorry. This post has been coming for the past week, but due to jury duty in the first place, an extremely volatile emotional state, and the death of my great-uncle (the funeral is tomorrow!), I’ve been a bit, shall we say, distracted.
Two weeks ago, I was called in Tuesday, 9/17, (for some reason, Mondays are not used by the government here) for orientation. My mom had been called in literally weeks before, in August, so she kinda knew what was going to happen. I’m nervous, because I really hate being asked questions. I can ask them all day long, just don’t ask me any, no matter who you are – I am very uncomfortable talking about myself. We sit there for two or so hours, waiting, and then the judge comes into the main jury room, where we assemble. This isn’t usual, I know this already, so the judge talks, and he introduces the lawyers (who I didn’t even see come in) and then something else is said, blah, blah, blah, we’re to reassemble in this room at 1pm.
I leave, get lunch, and barely make it in the door, because parking, for whatever goddamn reason, really fucking sucks in Bend. The emptiest parking lots I’ve seen during primetime anything is the Highway 20 Safeway. Downtown, Old Mill District, any of the college campuses, there’s just no such thing as parking. I literally drove in circles before I decided I better try the parking garage – which I had no idea how to navigate. I just.. I got lost in a goddamn parking garage.
Once I’m there, a few more trickle in, and then we’re told we’re heading to the courthouse, next door. It’s raining. It decided to choose that particular day, with probably close to 100 people, if not more, having to single file it through security. Thank god I had a hood. We single file it into the courtroom, till there was standing room only. And of course, during this time, I’m panicking, wondering if I’m in the right place because it would sure as hell as be embarrassing to end up in the wrong courtroom, right? Well, they called my name, alright. They called my name so that I had to sit in the jury selection seating – the area where they ask you questions to see if you should be on the jury for this particular case. They finish filling in the rows, and then we’re informed of what the case is about:
That’s right, goddamn, muthafuckin’ MURDER. I could potentially be a juror on a murder case! That was precisely what I wanted! I wanted a super interesting case because MURDER IS FUN*! So they asked questions, they talked about it a little bit, and the defendant was sitting in the room, and he’s this old, wrinkly guy on an oxygen tank. To be honest, he looked like a seriously older version of Hugh Hefner. The case was that he had murdered his wife, and the defending lawyer was trying to play the “he has dementia” card. Now, I know the effects of dementia. I witnessed it first hand – my maternal grandmother suffered from it and Parkinson’s (the disease Michael J. Fox has) and every once in while, mostly because she didn’t know what she was, she’d swing at someone (mostly me; I evidently really pissed her off). I got that. I understood that he was going through a mind-altering disease.
But did they pick me?
NO, THEY DID NOT. I was NOT chosen for the murder trial of an 86-year-old man who’d ADMITTED HE SHOT HIS WIFE. HE KNEW WHAT HE HAD DONE. HE WAS FULLY AWARE OF WHY HE DID IT, TOO. He shot her because he thought she and his daughter were in cahoots to kill him first. Perfectly reasonable.
Then I was called in Wednesday – that was a whole $20 in my wallet just from showing up. There were two cases; one for a shorter trial, about two days, and one for one that was supposed to stretch till the next Friday (9/27). I was sent to the longer trial. I was not called up into the stands, though they decided that they only needed 8 jurors if they thought they needed to ask more people questions – so I was sitting in the pews, listening to the lawyers drone on. I was a little apprehensive about this case, because it was about sexual abuse.
“Sexual penetration.” That is what they called it. That is what the case was about. “Sexual penetration.” Now, I may just be too blonde to function in this area, but does that mean rape? Did he rape his victim? Is that they’re saying? Why are you dressing it up? If it’s rape, say rape. If it is sexual abuse (not defined as rape in this case), say sexual abuse.
But I was totally okay with being released. The guy who did the sexual penetration (of a young girl – yeah, it was bad; several people asked to be released from the case) looked like the type of person who’d hire buddies to coerce the jury into deciding not guilty, or killing them. I did not want to die that way. So I was grateful that I was released.
And then two days off, which were nice, but it’s really like waiting for a person you’re interested in to call you back. You don’t know if they want you to come in or if they’re gonna say “hey, you don’t need to come in.” It’s just… aggravating because part of you wants to do this, and to be a proud American citizen but the other half of you doesn’t want to have to deal with the paperwork and the screwing up of your day.
Tuesday (9/24), I was called in again. It wasn’t a criminal case this time, but a civil case. Someone was suing someone else, and I was like “okay… I guess that’s interesting.”
They called me up, and I was actually in the juror’s box. I was sitting in the comfy, swirly chairs, unlike last time! And they asked questions, and they talked a little, and it was super boring, and then they chose jurors and…
I WAS ON IT. I WAS ON THE CIVIL CASE. I WAS A JUROR. AW, YEAH, I WAS GONNA JUDGE PEOPLE!
It was a nice feeling. And the case began.
First the defendant came up. He swore up and down he did not have anything to do with harming the plaintiff. Then the plaintiff came up and swore up and down that it was all the defendant’s fault that he’d broken his neck. The next day, Wednesday, they brought up witnesses who swore up and down one way or another and I just sat there, TWIRLING in the frickin’ SWIRLY CHAIR. I am honestly surprised that at no point did anyone say, “HEY, JUROR #***, STOP TWIRLING IN YOUR CHAIR, IT’S DISTRACTING.”
It was the most boring case ever. No. I lied.
It was the STUPIDEST CASE EVER. IT WAS JUST FULL OF INCONSISTENCIES AND BULLSHIT AND IT WAS HORRIBLE. Like, universe above, could these two men be anymore stupid? They’re taking to court a matter they basically peacefully solved after it happened – in 2010. And they were 38 years old. Sorry, but I’m not going to sue my BEST FRIEND just because of an ACCIDENT.
The plaintiff got so drunk during the accident, he basically had no idea what was happening. When they took his blood-alcohol level, he was at .373, an hour AFTER the accident occurred. The defendant said he’d been drinking, too – and then he said he hadn’t. No one knew what was happening. No one. No one was sober enough to be giving a testimony.
And the kicker? The whole accident was in the defendant’s PARKED truck, and he just happened to open the passenger door at the wrong moment, which was when the plaintiff fell out on his head, fracturing his collarbone in three areas.
So we ruled in favor of the defendant. Honestly, the entire jury, of which there was twelve of us, just said “This is stupid. This was an accident. How dumb can someone be?”
Yeah, that was my adventure in Jury Duty. We took longer to deliberate a civil case than it took the jury of the murder case to deliberate theirs. Go figure.
*I DO NOT CONDONE MURDER. PLEASE DO NOT GO OUT AND MURDER PEOPLE, OKAY? THAT IS BAD.