Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Jury Duty Is Just Like Divorce....

OK, so maybe it's not.  Though I shall include as many references to divorce that I can- in order to make it some how relate ;)

So my experience starts out ridiculously
early in the morning (8:45 report in time?  Seriously?) 
And since I tend to be a tad "panicky" in unknown and forced social situations- I skipped the morning coffee as I'm assuming no one appreciates a shaking crazy lady in their court of law.

I get there- and play Warrenton's version of "Where's Waldo" There's a huge obvious sign for parking Lot A- and an itty bitty -you will probably be distracted by the big shiny loops of razor wire on the next building over and totally miss it the first few times- sign for Lot H.  What happened to Lots B-I?  You're gonna need Dora to find those.  I seriously cannot help you there.

So I find the Holy Grail that is Lot H- only it's kind of two different parking lots and I noticed more people were parked in the downhill parking area than the smaller top one that I pulled into- so I move my car to the downhill lot.  When you're surrounded by rows and rows of police cars, you kinda have an urgent need to get things right. At this point I can officially check "Found Parking Lot H and Successfully Parked the Car" from my To Do List. 
I pull out my trusty letter from the Sheriff and confirm in the "Will I Be Searched?" section, that yes, I can have my cell phone with me so long that it's turned off or on vibrate and that I shouldn't attempt to smuggle in weapons of mass destruction in my Va-jay-jay.  Pepper Spray and Mace are also frowned upon for obvious reasons.  (And I'm assuming they would be Va-jay-jay irritants as well.)

So, a nice hike up the hill that lovingly reminds me that my fall allergies and out of shapeness make breathing while moving a lot harder than it should ever have to be and I'm dutifully checking the building numbers for #40.  Whomever labeled the parking lots must have numbered the buildings as well as they are jumping around out of sequence like a line dancing squirrel on crack.  Luckily a nice Mom with toddler in tow was able to walk me to the front door like a kindergartner on their first day of school. 
Thanks Mom! :)
*Checks "Find Entrance to Building" off her To Do List*
And I'm waiting in line for my turn at the Scan and Grope- when I notice the sign posted on the door is a picture of a cell phone in a big "No" circle.  There's no verbiage to explain this- just an obvious visual note that cell phones are as welcome as knives and guns.  In other words, not at all.  I step out of line and reread the letter from Sheriff Fox again.  He clearly states that cell phones are OK, so what the hell people?  After weighing in my head, do I trust the Sheriff's letter or the Big Guys with Guns? Big Guys with Guns won that mental standoff hands down.  So back out to the car I go.  And thank the Gods for deodorant on my second trek up the Hill of Death!
*Can now check "Find Entrance to Building On Her Own!" off my To Do List*
I reenter the Scan and Grope line and one of the aforementioned Big Guys with Guns, is telling the person in line in front of me that yes, it's OK to have your cell phone on you so long as it's on vibrate.... WHAT THE EFF IS THE DEAL WITH THE CELL PHONE "NO" SIGN THEN????  *Sigh*
Dear Faquier County Circuit Court,
Please add verbiage to your cell phone "no" sign to save my fellow citizens from experiencing the mental duress I went through while visiting your lovely establishment today.
*Deep Cleansing Screams*  *Deep Cleansing Screams*
OK- so  the building has been entered....
(Sadly I didn't get the added thrill of a grope as I did not set off the metal detector- mental note: pierce something kinky before going back on October 18th)
So I get to the nice guy who's checking in victims and I again explain that my summons was sent to my married name which is not my legal name- and he sends me on my merry way to the courtroom with the Sagely advice of "Jury A is down the stairs."
Walking in- that was the most "My brain is not comprehending this setup" moment for me- as to the right are all these people sitting in auditorium style chairs and they're facing downstairs where the judge sits and stage area is.  I walk downstairs as I am one for following directions- but when I get to the row of seats- I notice almost every other frigging person in there is sitting in the above section.  I'm sitting there next to some woman in a suit.  Did I just seriously invite myself to the wrong section? Is the Judge going to walk in and dismiss my sorry behind for being a jerk who can't follow basic directions?  So- back up the stairs I go (are you sensing a trend here?  Getting things right on try one is not my strong suit.)
I ask the nice guy again where I'm supposed to be sitting.  "Jury A is downstairs." 
OK- so back down the stairs I go.  Obviously everyone has just seen me walk down the stairs, sit, look freaked out, get up and walk back up the stairs only to walk back down the stairs moments later to sit again and look horrified.  I am now a one woman freak show for the upstairs people :(  Not to mention- being on the ground level gives you a direct line of sight to the upstairs people's crotches.  So not OK!!!  And it's not like I can play off my discomfort by pretending to be on my cell phone either.  There is no "Game Face" for this level of terror.  I try to deflect discomfort by chatting up Woman in the suit next to me.  Since I absolutely suck at polite conversation while being uncomfortable- I think I told her every Jury horror story known to man.  Luckily, she was really cool and just as uncomfortable as I was.  Moments later, the rest of Jury A start to file in- and notably most of them are not in suits (where the heck were you people when I needed you? You so fail me!) and I'm still there chatting, shifting nervously in my chair and trying not to notice that the woman in the top row of the upstairs people is wearing a skirt.  (Mental note: NEVER wear a skirt to Jury Duty- It's not a pretty nor a welcomed sight for Jury A)
Mental scaring aside, the next hour or two is pretty normal - Woman in a suit and I are now besties and have decided that we want to sit on a boring case. 
Woman in a suit: "Like a land dispute..."
Me: "Or a domestic dispute over cows"
Woman in a suit giggling uncontrollably: "Yes, please let our case be about stealing cattle!"
Me: "Domestic cattle theft!  Or two people are divorcing and we need to decide who gets custody of the chickens!"
She then decides maybe I'm not the best person for her to sit next to as we are both giggling uncontrollably.  (Take that you smug upstairs people MOFO's!)
Woman in suit:  "If you make me start giggling before the Judge and I get in trouble, I'm taking you down with me."
Me nodding: "Sadly we just may be the first Jurors to ever get sent to Time Out."
I'm now picturing my face on warning posters around the court room. "If you see this person, do not engage in conversation with her."
So at this point- officer I have no clue what his name was- starts to set up the DVD for our viewing enjoyment.  Both Woman in a suit and I are visibly cringing as we watch him push button after button to no avail..
Woman in the suit whispering to me: "Press the Play button!"
Me: "Look!  He found Pause!"
It's like we were a two person cheering section for someone playing the Claw Game.  And much to our delight, he was able to find Play after exhausting every alternative on the machine.  Truly the highlight of our day thus far.
So the video watching was exactly what you would expect.  I was almost able to get through it without laughing.  It's not my fault as the Judge talking pronounced "Juror" as "Jur-WAH!"
(Holy shit- I think she just called us "awesome" in French!)
That and there was a point in the video where they explain that when you're on the Jury- you shouldn't read any local papers (not a problem) or try to conduct your own investigation into the case online (Oh EFF!  I can't Google this?  But I need to Google everything!!!! It's what I do!!!!)
But then I was laughing again when the Juror on the video told his tale of woe-
"I'm used to being able to go home at night and talk to my Wife about what went on in my day...."
Dude, you are seriously Effed now.  Your upholding the Court's rule of not talking about the case just planted the seed of suspicion and doubt in your marriage.  She is plotting your demise as you sleep....
She knows that you're not talking to her because you're fantasizing about being with the Plaintiff.... Your ass is TOAST!  *Laughs the bitter Divorced Woman*
So what follows this is an interesting experiment in human interaction.  They send all of Jury A into a small room that is engulfed by the biggest ugliest table known to man.  Not only that- the bathroom is in the room with you.  A simple door is what's separating you from people doing their business. So we're wedged in like sardines and the line to the bathroom is as close standing and awkward as it is when you fly Coach. Sorry you're trying to sit there looking normal while I have my butt in your face! We just all barely squeezed into that room.  I'm sitting between people, looking forward at people and there is no escaping that this is the most socially awkward experience of my life.  What do you normally do when you're in a waiting situation in public?  That's right- you check your phone.  Then we had the added paranoia- of "you are not allowed to take notes while sitting in the Jury Room."  Umm, notes of what?
What My Notes Would Look Like: "Sitting in a cramped ugly room with minimum artwork.  Everyone is feeling awkward and no one is talking.  The line for the bathroom is hideously long.  Thank Gods I don't have to go right now... Oh holy hell is that instant coffee?  Seriously?  Would I ever be desperate enough to drink that?"  (Riveting, I know!)
So again, you have me in an awkward situation....
Me to the room:  So what the heck do they mean "We're not allowed to take notes?  Take notes on what? "Jury B was in the room with us and then they were not.." 
Woman in the suit:  "I'm just happy we get paid for this!  I didn't know that we would!"
Then someone else mentioned that it was total BS that some of them got stuck in 2 hour parking since Lot H was full- and how the Court wasn't going to give us a "get out of ticket" pass.
Me: "Yep- there went your $30!" "The Court giveth and the Court taketh away!"
Awkward conversation continued for what felt like hours of waiting.
Me: "Maybe this is a test to see if we're patient enough to sit on a Jury?"
Other Juror: "Or see how long we can be quiet"
Me: "I hope not.  I would fail that test every time."
Awkward waiting was briefly interrupted when someone from the outside world opened the door.  (FREEDOM!!!!)
Nope- she was just grabbing a stack of styrofoam cups.
When the door was closed again...
Me:  "I knew they were having a party out there."
So- hours later- it turns out that they weren't keeping us in the room to punish Yours Truly- the lawyers were deliberating the case- it was settled out of court and we were all granted our freedom. Until October 18th anyway....


  1. LMAO! I'm slightly jealous of woman in suit as she got to snarkily experience jur-wah duty with you and I had to work :(

    Was your GPS not working that you couldn't find Lot H...or building 40? *with shaking pointy finger* Haven't I taught you not to talk to strangers? What if this woman had been a crazy kidnapper wanting a nanny for her toddler?

    This cannot be the most socially awkward experience of your life. Teen years aside, you were married to the reverend for how long?

    I'm putting in a leave slip for the 18th! It's been too long since you and I were on the verge of getting kicked out of a government building! (the cell phone controversy will work in my favor this time!!!)

  2. heh heh said "dooooooo-ty" heh heh