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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It was that razorís edge of doubt that tipped my decision toward postponing my week of standby for jury service. Too much is happening in real life right now, mostly because itís January and I have taxes and financial statements and W-2s and 1099s to worry about. I didnít need to worry about having to spend my time sitting in a courtroom. Not right now. Iíve been agonizing about it since I got the summons, considering whether postponing my service would be good judgment or bad karma. I would have let it go, except for the doubt.

The doubt was about whether or not Iíd actually get called. I was scheduled for next week, and I was in Group 2, so I might have assumed that Group 1 would be called first. Within Group 2, I was Juror 715, so I might have assumed that the other 714 potential jurors would have been called before me. There was a fair chance I would call in every night and someone elseís number would be read off by the recorded voice, and Iíd be off the books for another year without having to appear at all.

Still, I didnít think I could take the chance. It ate at me too much, thinking about this, so today I made the call. They let you postpone jury service twice, and you have to select your own new date. It has to be at least eight weeks in the future, but no more than six months away. Six months is July, another stressful month, so at first I chose June. Then I moved it back to May, because the third week in May doesnít include the fifteenth of the month, an extra busy day for me, but it does include the third Wednesday of the month, a day when the courts are closed.

See how many things you have to think about? And itís not as if I shun jury service as a matter of course. Iíve never tried to get out of it, even while being questioned by attorneys and asked things I didnít feel were any of their business. I got your voir dire right here, pal. But Iíve always answered the questions as truthfully and respectfully as I knew how, and I was actually a little disappointed every time I was excused, which was every time Iíve been called, with one exception.

The one time I actually served on a jury was many years ago, in a civil case that took a few weeks during the coldest December in Santa Rosa history. I trekked to the Hall of Justice every day and spent all that time on display, rubbing shoulders with a bunch of strangers, listening to people talk about things I tried hard to care about. So itís no wonder I embrace the system that put me in that position, right? Oh, yes. I really want to go through that again.

3 January 2010

But I do embrace the system, or at least believe in it. Sure, I donít like driving all the way across town, parking in the visitor lot, going through the metal detector, and sitting with people I donít know. I like staying home and being alone, or with people who arenít judging me or asking me to judge somebody else. Iím pretty sure we botched the one trial I was part of, but Iíll never know, because I could never find any news about how the appeal came out. When I think about it these days, I think about it the same way I think about old movies: I wonder how many of those people are dead now?

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