So, I’m sitting here in Essex County Court, doing my civic duty as a potential juror. Not my idea of a productive day but it is what it is. Figured I should at least make some positive out of this experience, so here are today’s random observations.
You gotta feel sorry for the clerks who have to announce the name of jurors over the loud speakers. It’s not like we are in Kansas, and the names are those of the average white bread American. Y’know…Jim, Billy Bob, Bubba. I’m in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. If ever there was a melting pot of cultures, colors, religions and the highly unusual names people have today, this is the place. I’d have to estimate that the clerks are literally spelling out 25-30% of the names because they are just impossible to pronounce. They end every roll call of names with “jurors if I’ve mis-pronounced your name, I do apologize.” I’m thinking Ira Berkowitz is going to be a piece of cake.
Luckily for me, being that I’m completely addicted to my laptop, the jury waiting area has wifi and a pretty nice computer lounge. At the present time, there is a man of the cloth seated next to me. How’d you like to be a defendant and have that guy on your jury? Not only do you have to answer to a judge and jury of your peers, you run the possibility of having to answer to a higher authority who has one of employees staring right at you. At least you gotta think the guy might turn the other cheek.
Remember when you were kid and you went on school bus trips? Didn’t it always seem that you just had to sit in the same seat on the way back to school that you took on they way to your destination? It’s the same thing here in the jury wifi room. Got up for lunch break and went to the cafeteria to get something to eat. When I got back, the wifi room was pretty empty but I instinctively went back to the same seat I had been sitting in earlier in the day….and I wasn’t the only one. I noticed several people who did the same thing, including the man of the cloth seated 2 seats to my right. Maybe it’s divine intervention that causes us to do this.
Another thing about the wifi room – it’s supposed to be a “quiet area.” Yeah, like that ever works. For the most part, it has been fairly quiet. Very library like (except for the 4th floor in Bird Library back in the old SU daze…and my fellow SU alums know exactly what I’m talking about). But ever once in a while, the phone rings and you’d thing you were standing on a subway platform by the volume folks are speaking at. I guess the inside telephone voice is not part of these folks repertoire.
Not only do we have the loud telephone voice person, we have a loud chewer (I’m invoking the “close talker” episode of Seinfeld). One particular gentleman, a few rows over from me, sounded like he was chewing on a whole pack of gum while he was eating his lunch. Did my best not to stare at him but it was so mesmerizing, that I did have to give him a couple of quick glances just to make sure they hadn’t let a herd of cows into the courthouse.
About 2 hours ago, at a little after 3 PM, I started writing a conclusion to this post stating that I had gotten thru the day without being called. So wouldn’t you know it, I got called. My time in the courtroom lasted about 15 minutes as it was a murder case that would have required about a month on jury duty (with Mondays and Fridays off). When the judge asked if this would be a financial hardship on anyone, I stood up, walked out of the courtroom, met with the clerk and was dismissed from the case. Returning back down to the jury room, I was informed that I had performed my civic duty, that my service was no longer needed and that they would see me in 3 years.
And so ends my one day on jury duty. Only thing left to do is wait for my check for my service to the State of New Jersey. A whopping $5.00, doesn’t cover my lunch but at least they paid for my parking.