Jury Duty: The Modern Day Draft

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A jury duty waiting room, where so many people wish to avoid. Photo courtesy of planningnotepad.com

 

THOUGHTS ON THE OBLIGATION OF U.S. CITIZENS TO  BE AVAILABLE TO SERVE ON JURIES

 

Recently I was serving jury duty.

Meaning that I had to be available to serve on a jury if needed as I went on-line to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s website for five straight evenings to see if I had to report to court the next morning.

When the message appeared on Thursday (the final day I had to log on) that I didn’t need to report to court and that my jury duty service was completed, three words came to mind…

 

“Yippee! I’m Free!”

 

I won’t lie; like countless other folks, serving on a jury was the last thing I wanted to do as it’s such an imposition and inconvenience of my time.

Plus the fact that the summons comes unexpectedly – along with the thought that I could end up on a jury in a trial that lasts for months like O.J. Simpson’s “Trial of the Century” in 1994-95 – irritates me and causes anxiety as someone on the Autism Spectrum Disorder;  someone who Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise.

I know, I know – some will say that my attitude toward jury duty is wrong, that I need to understand that it’s an obligation that every U.S. citizen needs to fulfill and that it’s an honor to be able to possibly be one of twelve people deciding someone’s fate.

I do understand that, and if I was ordered to report to court and placed in a jury box I would have done so.

But that doesn’t mean I would’ve liked it.

 

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I like this statement – it’s SO true! Image courtesy of pixgood.com

 

In fact, this latest jury duty venture marked the sixth time (I think) that a summons with my name on it appeared in my mail.

And (again, I must be honest) while I’ve had to report to serve four out of those six times, I’ve had the fortune to not be selected for a jury.

Though I have had close calls that I sweated and stressed over, like the previous time I went though this in 2014 when not only I was called to the downtown Los Angeles court, they sent me and roughly forty other folks to the court in East L.A. for a trial.

Luckily the judge informed us that the case was settled and that we could all go home, telling us, “We’ll see you next year,” as there’s a twelve month waiting period before one is eligible to get summoned again.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Not likely,” as I left.

Ever since I started getting summonses in earnest in 2001, like many others I figured the best way to try to get out of jury duty is to have a strong opinion about whatever issue is being featured in the courtroom.

Because the prosecution and the defense attorneys want total non-bias, when questioned in the jury selection process if you express an iron-clad conviction for one side or the other, ala “No matter what, I’m going to vote him guilty (or innocent) because I’m sick of these thugs roaming on the streets/sick of these people getting treated so unfairly and filling the jails!”…

The chances are good that the judge will say those eight words that I reckon about ninety percent of potential jurors want to hear:

 

“You are excused. Thank you for your service.”

 

As I’ve said, I know that some won’t like my views on this modern-day military draft, which is what I like to call it as until the early 1970s, men were subject to getting a letter from Uncle Sam telling them to report to their local draft boards and put on a uniform, take a weapon, and possibly go get killed somewhere in Europe (during World Wars I and II), Korea, or Vietnam – which so many guys tried to get out of via a student deferment or fleeing to Canada.

Or in the case of Muhammad Ali, simply refusing to step forward and take the induction oath as he did in 1967.

 

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I really like this Monopoly style pic as it perfectly shows the attitude of many people towards jury duty. Image courtesy of hdimagelib.com

 

In other words, at least in my mind…

Then it was the military draft. Now – though of course no one is killed – it’s jury duty.

Which is why I feel jury duty ought to be a volunteer thing, where anyone who’s at least 18 years old and an American citizen who hasn’t been convicted of a felony can be hired (part-time, at between $10 and $15 an hour) to be on call for a jury and trained to be an impartial juror.

That would assure that the people sitting in those jury boxes are those who want to be there, and would lower the unemployment rate immensely.

I suppose you can tell from what I’ve written that I’m glad I wasn’t called to serve on anyone’s jury this particular time.

I also suppose you can tell that it’s my hope that I don’t get any more summonses for a long, long time.

However, if one does come – and I reckon it will,

I’ll cross that bridge if and when I get to it.

In the meantime, for those who dislike these views of mine regarding this obligation,

I hope that you respect the fact that I’m verbally standing up for my beliefs.

Which is a basic American right.

 

 

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The jury box – a place where many don’t want to be, but also a place that some enjoy. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com

 

 

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