Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jury Duty Survival Techniques

Do bring food and water. Especially water. This is important. Jury room confinement can be strict. And when the mid-day break does arrive, and the gates are flung open, there is not always enough time to negotiate the mad rush and long lines at the restaurants and deli-type stores. Imagine three hundred jurors in addition to an entire courthouse unloading onto one small street at the same time, and on a tight schedule. Ugly.

Do bring a variety of reading and writing material. Otherwise, if you are anything like me, you might be cross-eyed after the seventh hour or reading the same book or editing the same manuscript. Also, in a jury waiting room, the levels of conversation tend to rise and fall, so you may need to adjust what you are reading or working on based on your ability to concentrate.

Do, if the opportunity arises, share jokes and amusing stories with fellow jurors in waiting. Here’s a snippet from a second grade teacher I was chatting with: While reading over the writing of one of her students, she said to him, “You know how to spell we, don’t you?” He looked up at her with the most innocent of expressions. “Oh yes,” he told her. “Wii.”

Don’t bring your laptop, unless you enjoy living dangerously. I brought mine only to be told that if and when I got called to show my face in a courtroom, I would have to leave my beloved laptop behind, in the jury room. Maybe for hours. With the two hundred and eighty people who did not get called into the courtroom. Um….

Finally, do remember that although doing jury duty time can be a complete drag, it really is a good thing to be a part of. Just imagine yourself accused (maybe unjustly) of some crime. Wouldn’t you want a fair and impartial panel of people to help settle matters for you? I sure would.

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