Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Civic Duty

A week before the last semester ended, I got a notice from the Distric Court  with the dreaded words, "Jury Summons." I got out of jury summons last time I got a summons because I was a student. This time I'm not so lucky. 

I went to the court house on the appointed day and saw a lot of different people there, all waiting with a tinge of anxiety and nervousness. A couple of us started talking. As soon as they found out I was a statistics professor, they immediately claimed that I would not be required to serve since no lawyer--in his or her right mind--wanted to cross a stats professor.  Yeah, right. 

But could you see me sitting on some jury and some attorney spouting off a bunch of stats to impress the jury?!?!? I'd be asking how that attorney reached their "statistical conclusion?" Not to mention I'd want to know their methodology, including how they collected their data, which statistical analysis was used and why, and actually see their findings. I like evidence...hard evidence. And just let a lawyer use that worn out phrase of "Studies show..." or "Research has proven...." Yeah--I'll be all over that one! My students aren't allowed to use such gobblety-gook in my classes! I doubt the judge would appreciate my asking "Which studies..." or "Which research..."

Come to think about it...I think they--meaning the people being called to serve--might have a point.  

So I went to the orientation and stood in the back of the court room by the doors. The first thing I noticed was the odor. Plainly speaking, it stunk. It was bad enough for me to prop  a door open for some fresh air until the bailif came by and said they had to close the door. I whispered to him that the room smelled. He gave me a weird look and I realized he did not smell what I did and that he was probably marking me down as a possible trouble maker. And I seem to fall into that category easy enough. 

There was the usual film about how this civic duty was righteous and honored, and required for citizens of this nation. Ok...I get that. But I personally feel that the our judicial system is...well...flawed. And I think it's best to leave it at that...until when I'm not serving as a potential juror. :D 

So when the judge came in and did his spiel about how we are all serving a higher calling, I almost felt like I was back in church--or one of them I attended as a child.  (Come to think of it, a court room is very similar to a church in its set up. Hmmmm...that requires some pondering!) When finished, he then asked if there were any questions. I caught my arm before it became visible up in the air, waving. I really didn't want to be the one to start a bunch of questions--especially since no one else seem to have any. I don't want the reputation as being a troublemaker early on...especially in front of a judge. 

Anyway--every Friday evening, I have to call this number to see if I'm needed the following week. I'm not looking forward to this while trying to teach. I can see this causing lots of late nights and/or early mornings in my attempts to keep my grading up and not fall behind. But we shall see. If I'm lucky, and the fates have already decided I'm in good favor, I will not have to serve.  


  1. I certainly see how it could cause you a lot of problems especially with your schedule. I wonder if they'd let me take your place? I'm kidding of course but both my daughter and I have always wanted to sit on a jury. We must just walk to the beat of a different drum. My husband knew someone who worked in the county court office years ago and asked them if there was a trick to being called since his wife would so love to sit on a jury. Nope - just luck of the draw.

  2. Granny--if there was a way to trade places, I'd let you come and serve for me! :D

  3. The last time I received a summons for jury duty I had to call in the night before to see if I would be needed the following day. As luck had it I was "off the hook". Not sure why, but we all cringe when we get that summons.