Jury Duty Next Tuesday

I’m flying off to England tomorrow as my cousin Jenny is getting married. I’ll be flying into London (Heathrow) but the wedding itself is in Beaconsfield (map). As it turns out, I’m flying there by way of Miami (yeah, I didn’t expect that one either) and after the layover plus the time change, I end up getting there on Thursday morning. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be wiiide awake after that one ;).

Fortunately, my flight back is only on Sunday — the wedding is on Saturday — and so I have at least a few days to get acclimated to the time change. On the other hand, I get back Sunday evening and (surprise, surprise), I have work on Monday. But, I’m not going to look forward to spilled milk (or something). I'm just determined to relax and have a fun time. My whole family will be there and I’m looking forward to seeing all of them and spending some time with my extended family as well.

Then, on Tuesday, I have jury duty. I received notice for this a couple weeks ago and I counted my lucky stars that it didn’t coincide with this wedding. For any Dallasites reading, it’s at the Frank Crowley Courts Building which I believe is kinda in the West End. And while I'd normally reserve such trite commentary for its title attribute, that page for the Frank Crowley Courts Building has some truly hideous web design. What, are we still living in 1995?

I’ve never been to jury duty, so I don’t have much of an idea about what to expect. Interestingly enough, the jury summons includes a tear-off form asking for various information about me. Much of it is ordinary and expected — “name”, “date of birth” and so on — but why do they care about my “religious preference”? And, for that matter, my race? The form does appear mandatory, but it does make me a bit uneasy that they’d have any use for some of those tidbits.

From what I gather, there’ll be a lot of waiting around, so I’ll be sure to bring a book (perhaps my copy of The Tipping Point, unless I bring it on my trip to England and finish reading it there). And, I was about ask about whether I’d be allowed to bring my iPod (filled with NPR, natch) but I just ran across this D Magazine blog entry on jury duty which says that it’s apparently ok. And besides what I should or shouldn’t bring along, I’m also curious about how long it lasts — assuming for a moment that I’m not selected for the jury, I’m guessing this would this be an all-day thing? Anyway, if you’ve already been to jury duty, I’m open to any suggestions on what to expect or other tips.

6 thoughts on “Jury Duty Next Tuesday

  1. I have been called for jury duty twice and selected for juries twice – in the Dallas County court system. Batting 1.000 so far!

    What you can expect: Lots of waiting. You get there and check in, then wait in the main jury room until your number (or the range your number is in) gets called. You proceed to that courtroom where you continue to wait in the hallway. If you’re lucky, the balif will come out and announce a settlement/plea bargain (civil vs. criminal) and you can leave. If you are not so lucky, he will call everyone individually by name and you proceed into the courtroom in that EXACT order (man, they get uptight about that) and sit there while the attorneys for each site ping the crowd with questions. You then go back outside and wait. If this nears lunch time, you will be sent to lunch and told when to return. Upon returning, you will again wait for some period of time (where a settlement/plea bargain may yet be announced). Then you are called back into the courtroom. If luck failed you at step 1, hopefully it will be with you on step two, where they DON’T call your name. Then you get to leave. If they call your name, you proceed to the jury box, and as soon as the 12 are called and the others leave, the judge gavels court into session, you’re sworn in, and away you go!

    In most cases, you will be done by lunch. In my case (both of them) I got on juries for trials that lasted 1 week. Felonies. Attempted capital murder of a child under the age of 6 months, and (forgot precise legal name) sex with a minor under the age of 12. 2 years apart. My last one was in 9/03, so most likely this fall I’ll get called again. WOOHOO!

    As for the questionaire, that is used by the attorneys on each side as they try to decide who to use their “drops” on from the jury pool.

    You get a meager amount of pay each day, but that will basically cover your fees for the parking garage if you don’t leave for lunch.

    Have fun! ;-)

  2. Alex, since you live near the DART light rail, I recommend using the free bus pass that came with your summons. The light rail drops off about 3 blocks from the courthouse, (I forget which station, See DART’s Trip Planning site for planning info) and you can either walk the last 3 blocks or catch the next bus which stops right in front of the Crowley Building. That way, you won’t have to pay for parking, and you will probably get there faster than driving.
    As for lunch, they have a decent if a bit bland cafeteria in the basement. It has a wide variety of foods, pizza, hamburgers, soups, fruits and veggies, sandwiches, and more.
    Oh, one last thing – don’t bring a pocketknife. No matter how small, they will confiscate it. [8-(

  3. Thanks for all the info, guys. Perhaps I will make use of the DART as you suggested, Mike — at least that way I can put my meager pay towards lunch or something halfway useful. (And that Italian place does look tempting.)

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