30 April 2012

The Juror Is Out

Well, that was pretty painless. I got to the courthouse in Malden about half an hour early, and by 8:30 (the time we were supposed to report by) there were maybe eighteen people in the jury pool room. I was expecting a larger crowd, but the district court does things differently: juries there have only seven members (one is chosen as the alternate after the case has been presented). In Massachusetts, those called for jury duty serve for one day or one trial.

We were told there were a number of cases pending, but the judge wanted to first see how many might be resolved without trials. So we waited. I'd forgotten to bring a book, so after finishing the paper and doing the crossword, I was forced to endure a television playing talk shows like Dr. Oz and Wendy Williams.

Around noon, the judge came back to tell us that, of ten cases, all but two had been adjudicated, and the other two were being continued, so we were released. I didn't speak with any of the other jurors, but it was clear from his remarks to us that the judge took his work seriously and also that he enjoyed it, which is heartening.

One other observation: after arriving I had to sit in the lobby until it was time for us to go upstairs. While there, within the space of 60 seconds, two different people entered and said they were reporting to perform their community service. Both were told that only happens on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and both were obviously unaware of this fact. I don't know what they did to be there, but you'd think they would have been told which day to report.

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