When I returned from Christmas vacation, I found a jury summons amidst the stack of mail waiting for me.Â At first I thought, “Cool.Â I get to see the judicial system in action.Â I get to fulfill a civic responsibility.”Â Then I looked at the date.Â Monday, January 30th.Â Hmmmmm . . . renewal conference would be over—that’s good.Â Oh. No.Â Home Assignment week.Â It was supposed to be a “No Kids” week, but I’d told people to bring their kids.Â Three kids were coming to spend the week with me, and I would be fulfilling my civic responsibility.Â Then I thought, “Well, most of the time the cases settle and people are excused without ever having to report.Â I’m sure that’s what will happen.”
Being sure that something will happen is definitely not the same as it not happening.Â I checked the website Friday night per the instructions.Â Sure enough, every number but the sixty surrounding mine were excused.Â The instructions said to call between 10:15 and 11:00 Monday to see if I needed to report to the courthouse Monday afternoon.Â I called, they said to report.Â Then I thought, “There’s still a chance I won’t even get to a courtroom let alone get chosen for the jury.”
We all went to courtrooms.Â The judge said they needed 6 jurors, but they would start by interviewing 12 to speed the process along.Â I was juror number 11 to enter the jury box.Â I could see my whole week crumbling before my eyes.Â The judge described the nature of the case—the defendant was accused of indecent exposure, resisting arrest, and a few other related things.Â In the course of the voir dire the judge asked if anyone had ever been a victim of an indecent exposure.Â That was one of the few times I could raise my hand.
During the summer I studied in France during college I was flashed regularly.Â In the Gardens at Versailles.Â In a park in Grenoble.Â In the Gardens at Versailles.Â (Yes, it happened more than once the day that I was there!)Â And a few other places.Â I was shocked and annoyed; I felt like I had a sign over my head, visible only to perverts that said “Please Expose Yourself to Me.”Â I haven’t thought about it too much since then.
Well, the questioning by the A. D. A. went on for a while.Â Then the Defense Attorney started his questioning.Â I have a feeling he liked to hear himself talk.Â He didn’t even get half way through the jury withÂ his voir dire when his time ran out.Â Â Then they started with their challenges of which they each got three.Â It got down to seven of us who were left.Â I thought they’d keep all seven of us . . . six jurors and an alternate.Â When it got down to seven, the attorneys asked for a brief recess.Â We came back about 10 minutes later.Â Soon after I sat down, the judge asked me to move to the front row.Â I thought, “OK, this is it.Â I’m on the jury.”Â Before I could sit down, the defense attorney asked for me to be his last challenge.Â The judge instructed me to hand my badge to the clerk and have a good afternoon.
While I was a little disappointed about missing out on seeing this part of democracy in action, I was greatly relieved to be able to spend the “no kids week” with three fantastic kids.
I guess all that exposure 20 years ago paid off!
photo courtesy of Marcelo Gerpe