How to Get Out of Jury Duty

6:15AM

Wake up everyone
How can you sleep at a time like this

    Ugh, I hit the snooze button.  I can sleep another nine minutes.  I’ll brush my teeth a little faster.  

    Nine minutes later ….  I hit the snooze button again.  I can sleep another nine minutes.  I’ll brush my teeth a lot faster and won’t dry my hair all the way.

    Once again the alarm rings.  This is cruel and unusual punishment to get up at six anything.  I better get up.  I hit the snooze—just one more time.  Just one more time, I swear.

 

7:00AM Guitars, drums ….

Man, it’s a hot one
Like seven inches from the midday sun

    Crap!  Santana means Get.Up.Now.  I finally, reluctantly, throw back the covers.  Damnit, it’s 7:00AM.  I sigh.  At this rate I’m going to be late.  I wonder if they really throw people in the pokey for missing jury duty.  I guess I’ll find out. 

    Twenty-five minutes later I walk into the kitchen to forage in the fridge.  No time for cereal.  Definitely no time for eggs.  Toast?  Screw it.  I’ll stop at Starbucks on the way.  

    I pull up directions to the courthouse and the free parking garage.  Dangit, that’s four or more blocks to the courthouse and the temperature is going to be a balmy 108.  I should have done recon yesterday.  I really should have postponed jury duty.  I’m not in the right mind for this. 

    I take the Boulder Highway north.  I remember all the times I traveled this road to see Mom in the hospital in North Las Vegas.  So many times.  So many times.

    I look for the Starbucks. There—off Tropicana.  Looks like at least five cars in line.  Heck, I’m already late.  Besides if I am going to be in the pokey I need my wits about me.  I flip  on my blinker.

    “Welcome to Starbucks, may I take your order?”

    “I’ll have an iced venti non-fat latte and a slice of lemon loaf.”

    “Anything else?”

    “No, thank you.”

    I inch forward. I am not up for this.  I just want to go home, crawl into bed, and sleep.  I’m not depressed.  I’m just sad.  So incredibly sad.  Soon the caffeine will kick in and I should feel semi-human again.

    I have my badge from work so I sail through courthouse security.  Finally something on my side!  I glance at the clock —Yep, I’m late.  But only an hour and eight minutes late.  9:08AM.

    I approach the check-in window to admit my sin.  I’m tempted to drop to my knees, make the sign of the cross, and plead for mercy.

    “Hi, I know I’m late.  I’d like to check-in for jury duty.”

    The clerk finds my name and checks me in.  She doesn’t say a word about my tardiness.

    “Please go into the jury room.  We have three courts beginning today.  We’ll give you direction shortly.”

    “Thanks.”  I look around the lobby.  No officers come rushing out with handcuffs ready to read me my Miranda Rights.  I must be safe.

    10:00AM the jury clerk comes in and calls jurors 150-200.  Darnit, that’s my group.  She lines us up and we head into the courtroom.  I am juror 11.  The first 12 of us file into the jury box.  

    They begin voir dire.  I am the perfect juror if I do say so myself.  Not that that was my intension.  Far from it.  I have not raised any red flags and I work for the government so my employers will be tolerant of my absence.  I should have postponed jury duty.  I really should have postponed jury duty.

    In Alaska I was called every year like clockwork.  It got old.  One year someone suggested I postpone jury duty until the week of Thanksgiving.  That would decrease my chances of having to report since it was highly unlikely they would call anyone Monday or Tuesday.  They wouldn’t call you Wednesday or Thursday and pretty much you were scot-free by then.  I did that for several years.  But no, I just wanted to get it over with this year.  Or maybe I just needed a distraction.

    A few of the jurors raise concerns so the judge and counsels caucus behind a partition by the judge’s bench.  The jury clerk turns on a mixed tape to drown out any conversation.  The first couple of songs are quite soothing.  Then John Denver starts to sing Annie’s Song.  So sweet.  So tender.  I start to sniffle, my eyes sting.  I search for some Kleenex to discreetly wipe my eyes.  The song makes me think of Mom and how I wish she was here, especially this week.  My birthday is Thursday and we would have celebrated doing all the things she enjoyed.  I was always okay with that because it made her happy.  Tears cascade down my cheeks, blotchy, red, and warm to the touch.  I need more Kleenex but in desperation resort to using my left sleeve.  

    The jury clerk calls my name.  I look over to the caucus area.  Crap, they found out I was late and they are going to arrest me.  I grab my things and walk over to the partitioned area.  I look at them through watery, red eyes mentally calculating the balance of my checkbook in case I need bail money. 

    The judge asks me what’s wrong.

    I sniff and tell him that my mom had passed away in June and I was having a hard time.  (I surely don’t want to blame the jury clerk’s mixed tape!)  The attorneys ask if I thought I might be able to make it through the trial.  (The curse of being the perfect juror.)

    “I don’t know.”  I cry harder now because I’m embarrassed that I can’t control my emotions.

    “Susan, I’m going to excuse you from jury duty.  I hope you feel better soon.  You can leave the courtroom,” the judge said his kindness and compassion clear.  I continue to cry as I exit the courtroom.