Monday, May 31, 2010

Jury Duty - In the Lobby

I was called for jury duty for the second time since we've lived in Texas. I served about 5 years ago on a jury for a $3 million lawsuit. I'll talk about that on a later date so sorry to get any hopes up.

Before the voir dire they let us all sweat it out in the lobby. We chill until they take role call to make sure everyone was there on time. Amazingly they were. Two extras even showed up! They apparently didn't check their email that said their assignment was swapped to another court. That was my first sign that things would go as I wanted it. Funny, that logic didn't apply to the sad few actually selected to serve.

While waiting there is near State Fair or Wal-Mart style people watching. There were a couple of crazy ladies who I assume were from another jury pool being reassigned or something. They were sitting across from me chatting outside of another courtroom on this floor of the building. I supposed they'd been talking for awhile because they had become very comfortable with one another and their surroundings. They were openly discussing their stance on gay marriage and Arizona's immigration laws. Let's just say that when you use derogatory slang to justify your stance, you need to shut your mouth. Who knows, they may have actually known each other outside of jury duty, you know from a local Baptist church. Cause given Austin's extreme liberal swing, you typically don't hear racist conservatives touting their views in public. Probably why they were not in that voir dire any longer.

Out of my courtroom an 8 month pregnant lady was in and out a couple times and later joined up with a crazy hippie who was scolded by the bailiff earlier for trying to go to the bathroom. As they passed, he mentioned her impending due date and she remarked "he didn't even know we were pregnant before the accident." HOLY HELL, I thought! I can't sit on a jury and look at a pregnant widow victim. More so, I immediately knew who the defendant would have been. This hooker dressed for prom and her thug boyfriend walked out of the courtroom just before prego appeared. Seriously, she had a chiffon black dress that didn't really cover her panties that showed off the girls in all their glory. Her 6" platform heels were leopard....leopard to a court appearance? The weave with giant curls was a straight up prom doo. Thinking about it, it is prom season, maybe she just multitasked that $200 salon visit. I couldn't imagine trying to play these two parties against each other without a bias. Luckily I didn't have too. This was not my case.

So before you go in to meet the players we all had to fill out a document stating how we wanted to be paid for jury duty. Yes, they actually pay for jury duty and it's a lot more than I'd imagined. People told me the first go round that I'd get $5 a day and was floored. Apparently, though just before I served, they changed the pay. Still pathetic, but assuming you still get your salary, it's not entirely ridiculous.
Here is where I had to evaluate my character. Do you want to donate your jury pay or do you want to receive your payment? WHAT? I know it's a civic duty and people don't think you should be paid for doing so. So, should I be a better person or should I pocket the cash because I was inconvenienced? This is a moment of truth scene. No one is looking. It's between you and the county court system. Do you do the right thing or the take the selfish road?
I'm a bad person. Blow me! I was happy to see that the charities they offer are actually ones I'd be willing to give to should I have done the right thing. Dang, probably gonna have a Jiminy Cricket conscious before the end of the year and actually give to them. Probably isn't absolute though...


  1. That sounds like quite the experience, man. I love people watching, so perhaps when my name finally gets called for civic duty, it won't be as bad as I imagine it will be.

    For the record, I would have pocketed the five bucks, too. If I'm going to donate, it's going to be on my own hard-earned dime.

  2. I'll post about the actual voir dire what you CAN learn about people in a very short time. The experience isn't horrible, it just never happens on your terms, you know?

    The last jury I served I was in the box for 8 days, I ended up with over $300. And I don't remember being asked to donate that. My real job suffered big time for it though.