Yesterday I went downtown for jury duty. Unlike most of the people there, I am not annoyed by having jury duty…except the fact that this time it happened to fall on a day off from school. I have been called for duty three other times, and only once was I brought in for voir dire. The whole trial by your peers is a pretty crazy process if you think about it…Canada is the only other country in the world that has a similar system (right?).
I was probably the only person there who wanted to get on a jury. I think it would be the most incredible professional development. Of course I assumed just like the other times I had been called that I would just sit around all day so I stuffed my backpack with all the kids research papers that should have been graded last week. Within two hours I was called down with twenty-four people to a be interviewed for a trial that need two more jurors for a 6 member panel. The judge first talks to everyone, and then folks are brought in one at a time to be interviewed by the lawyers. I was the first person to interviewed. I knew I had to start off by making a good first impression because I really, really wanted to be on this jury because it was going to be a short case and I would only miss about four days of school.
I was brought in, sat in the little booth, and the questions started…
Defense Attorney: I see you have 6+ years of college, where did you attend?
Me: I went to Stonehill College for my undergrad, Southern Connecticut State University for my Masters, and for my sixth year…for my sixth year…sorry sir after spending 10s of thousands of dollars and two years of my life there I just can’t seem to remember (I failed to mention that later today I was actually speaking at the open house of the school I received my 6th Year).
Ok…thought lost my shot but I came back strong…
Defense Attorney: Will it be any inconvenience to serve on the jury?
Me: I’ll get 4 extra hours of sleep each morning, will be home on time each day, won’t have any planning to do at night, an hour lunch–just any chance to have a real lunch is nice, constant breaks, a shorter drive, and won’t need lesson plans done for the day I return because I’ll just talk about my experience…sir, I beg you to pick me.
Ahhh…I didn’t want to seem needy! I had to recover on the next question…
Prosecutor: Will you be able to make a decision based on the evidence, and be able to tell when something is obviously not true? Just like sometimes when a student comes up to you with an excuse and you know it’s not true?
Me: I don’t jump to conclusions even when something seems unlikely, that is very important when dealing with kids..
Judge cuts in: Yes, but if a student said they couldn’t hand in their homework because they were attacked by aliens…
Me: I’d ask to see the wounds.
Prosecutor: How about if they say their dog ate their homework?
Me: I have seen bites taken out of papers that could not be identified as human. Sir, I look at all the evidence before jumping to conclusions.
It went on for another 10-15 minutes. It seemed like I was being asked many of the same questions over and over, all of them with obvious answers, which made me wonder exactly what they were looking for. It could not be my answers. The tone of my voice? My body language?
When it was over I was asked to step out of the room…and minutes later was told I was chosen. I am very excited about it because in some weird way I feel more “American” getting the chance to take part in this process…and did I mention four extra hours of sleep each day and an hour lunch!