Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A duty and a privilege of citizenship

That's what jury duty is described as in the summons I received to serve on the Maine Superior Court Traverse Jury. "There is no more valuable service citizens can perform than to aid their community by serving as a juror." NO MORE VALUABLE. There is absolutely NOTHING I can do that is better than this! It says so, right on page 2. I am so awesome.

I have jury selection on the 12th. There's a pretty little 21-day schedule of dates that I have to be available, for up to 15 days' total service. These dates span pretty much all of March and April. So my entire life for the next two months is subject to a possibility that I will have to spend the day in court. I have to be available between 9am and 5pm each of these days. And I need to check in each night after 6 (prerecorded phone message) to see if I have to show up the next day or not. Which means I may or may not need after-school child care (which, by the way, is pretty much next to impossible to find in my area, and IF I was able to find it, would be pretty pricey). Fortunately, I have the TEN DOLLARS A DAY that I will be receiving as a juror fee (plus, don't forget, the fifteen cents a mile for the roundtrip to the courthouse). Which I can expect to receive within 45 days. So that'll help. (much rolling of eyes) I'm just thankful I'm not an islander. They have been notified that it is possible that court will run past the time of the last ferry, and they will be required to find overnight housing. But the State does reimburse for some (SOME!) of the cost of lodging and meals in that case.

I've been on jury duty before. My last experience was in 1994, and actually spanned over the time that I got married. In fact, on my wedding day, I had jury duty in the morning, went in to work in the afternoon, went home, got dressed and went out in my backyard and got married. How's THAT for a romantic marriage story?

I was on three cases last time. One case settled before we ever sat, one case had a couple of days' testimony and then they plea-bargained it, and the third case, which went all the way through, was a baby-shaking. That was a horrible case to sit. I had a particularly hard time with it, because I did not feel that the prosecutor proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so I voted 'not guilty.' And I was the only one. In Maine, a verdict on a criminal case must be unanimous. The entire rest of the jury tried to browbeat me into changing my vote. It was awful. We ended up deadlocked, and the case was declared a mistrial. Sitting that case was hard enough, and listening to all the evidence, and seeing pictures of the little girl, and knowing that it was entirely possible that the defendant was guilty. But the evidence didn't prove it to me. And so I voted as I felt I was obligated by law and the judge's instructions. And I took a LOT of crap in the jury room.

So naturally, this new summons has stirred it all up for me. And my natural tendency to obsess and worry and panic has been allllll triggered, and I'm just having a wonderful time. The best thing that could happen to me would be if I show up on the 12th and don't get selected for ANY trials. (anyone think that's likely? considering I've had jury summons twice now, and most of the people I know haven't had it even once? anyone taking odds that I'll luck out? no? me either)

Well anyway. I'd better go continue on in my efforts to once again make my house look like a home and not general wreckage. And prepare for the Brownie meeting this afternoon. (interestingly enough, although jury duty is affecting just about everything else in my life, not ONCE is it scheduled on a day we have a Brownie meeting.) Later. mk


The Beast Mom said...

Can't you request to be let off? If you are going to run into issues financially or w/ childcare etc., then I think you might be let off. You could definitely have been let off for your WEDDING day. :) And it seems you've already done your duty not that long ago. I find it interesting that some people NEVER get called to jury duty, and I've been called five times in the past 12 years. What the hell? I'm on some kind of Annoy the Crap Out Of Me government list.


markira said...

Well, I agree that I would have been let off for my wedding day if, um, they had known I was getting married. But y'see, we decided on a Wednesday to get married on Monday. (needed those 3 days to process the license) So I really can't blame the State for that one, much as I'd like to have another reason to bitch. :D

And I'm going to be calling in a LOT of favors for childcare during jury duty...all the people who have ever had me watch their kid, are all going to get a chance to reciprocate. :D

I did try to get out of it. They sent me a form around Christmas, asking me to explain why I shouldn't be called for jury duty. I did the whole explaining about my disability, depression, social anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive thinking, etc etc. Even flat-out told them that the stress of just *going* to jury selection could trigger an extreme stress reaction on my part (i.e. major depressive episode). And their response? "You are hereby notified that you have been drawn to serve as a Traverse Juror" etc etc. Serve 'em right if I have a breakdown in the courtroom.

Yeah, what IS it with some people getting called over and over again and others never? Shouldn't they be keeping better track? I mean, shouldn't I get moved to some list of people who have already served until everyone has had a chance, and then dump us all back into the pool? Obviously the State is not being run as efficiently as could be done. (heh heh, like that's earth-shattering news) mk

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, you are not going to get past voir dire this time.

Judge: Has anyone here served on a jury before?
Markira raises hand
Judge: And were you able to reach a verdict?
Markira: No. It was a hung jury and a mistrial.

Whereupon the ADA will move to strike you for cause, and if he fails, will use a peremptory challenge on you, sending you back to the central jury room.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, I TOLD you I'd watch your kids. Geez, don't you LISTEN, woman?