A practice in impartiality

Oct 18, 2011

in Word

Guys, it happened, I got summons-ed for the most civic of all duties. Jury duty in Queens County, New York. Jamaica, specifically. I’m back and lived to tell about it. Thankfully and gratefully released after just one day. I have never missed my cubicle more.

I received the juror qualification questionnaire awhile back, probably in the summer, which I dutifully filled it out and mailed back completed online, and have been waiting ever since. The thing is I know I’m totally perfectly and over-ly qualified to serve jury duty. A young professional with a college degree who speaks English, has no felony convictions, & has lived in NY just shy of 4 years ?p.s. wtf? happened in those years? I also have a steady job who {thankfully} will pay me for my time served. Ever since I got my New York drivers license and registered to vote here, I knew it was only a matter of time.

Oddly enough, I personally know a small handful of young late-twenty-something ladies who have also been pooled into the jury round-up in the past year. Watch out Astoria ladies, they’re coming for you too. Queens is on to us.

When I got the “Call on this date” summons, I knew, just knew, my number was going to be called. My only prayer was that I be called in Long Island City, or Kew Gardens. Both areas significantly nicer than Jamaica {I had a brief affair with that sector trying to get a new social security card a few years back} as I was hoping to never return. Not even to go to JFK airport, I bypass that armpit of the five boroughs from the safety of a car service on purpose. Alas, my wishing and hoping was to no avail.

Here I have compiled a list of helpful tips for potential jurors in and out of my district.

  1. You’re going to get picked. So just be ready to deal with it.
  2. It totally doesn’t matter if you’re late, there’s a huge line for security anyway. *You don’t have to take off your shoes, however.
  3. Look semi-nice, people will treat you as you look. Act nice too, being “that guy” will get you nowhere. You’re all in the same boat, so sit down and don’t rock.
  4. The jury holding room babysitter moderator will be understandably over it starting at approximately 9:01am.
  5. The jury holding room itself will most certainly be a cavernous and echo-y hall of marble and metal and you will be unable to hear a thing. Ambient noise will be amplified and all speech will sound like it’s coming from a fast food drive-thru. Brush up on your lip-reading skills and wear your glasses.
  6. Bring a pen. You have to fill out forms. Try to ignore the fact that this could easily be done ahead of time electronically while you struggle to write through four sheets of carbon paper using your leg as a desk.
  7. Remember, and practice responding to your legal name, as it appears to Uncle Sam as well as all of its varying pronunciations.
  8. Bring lunch, you will not feel like “exploring the neighborhood” on your lunch break. Also, the neighborhood will not be worth exploring, unless check cashing, bail bonds, and legal copy joints are your thing.
  9. They give you the gift of free wi-fi, use it. But be prepared for a lot of blocked domains. Its government internet.
  10. You will have never been so happy to get back to the job you hate to go to every Monday morning.

Being questioned for jury selection is like interviewing for a job you don’t want. Resist your basic instinct to please, and just be honest. You’ve done nothing wrong, and are not the one on trial. If you’re biased, you’re biased, the worst part is admitting that in front of two lawyers and nineteen strangers. But you’ll live to tell about it. I had the hardest time being questioned, I was flushed, squeaky, couldn’t make eye contact, and wanted to disappear the entire time.

I generally hate being put on the spot and the center of attention. {I know, as a former performer, I’m not sure what happened there either.} But I lived to tell about it and you will to. I was lucky enough to have been deemed not suitable for the trial in question and was also released from the general pool after one day. Here’s to four more years of jury-less living!

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