jury duty

Yesterday was jury duty. A miscellaneous sea of humanity. People from all walks of life, even hipster men with extra slim khakis and suede loafers. Everyone was really nice that I met.

Many people were on their phones and tablets in the jury assembly room if they could get on the WiFi which many could not. The joining the WiFi seems simple but it’s a process. I brought a book. Lisa Scottoline’s new book as a matter of fact. (It’s awesome so far. Oh and she mentions Coldstream Road!) I was one of the only people that had a book.

We are paid $25 for three days if you get a trial which I think is a raise from when I last had jury duty which was when I lived in Lower Merion Township and we went to Norristown. There in Norristown there was the coat check man who once upon a time had been a mayor of Norristown. We went then to the moldering basement of the Norristown courthouse and they played a movie on a VCR —- “Legally Blonde.” (Yes, really.)

It’s $9 for one day. That sort of covers lunch but not much else.

Here in Chester County County, the courthouse is new. So it’s a nice spacious jury assembly room. We wait there to go down. I will admit the bulk of the chairs are very uncomfortable. They are those ones that replaced actual desks and chairs in classrooms where you have the desk “arm.” If you are left-handed like me, it totally doesn’t work for you. I also have lymphedema so sitting like that is actually hard. So I did get up a few times so my one lower leg didn’t swell.

We then got split up and assigned numbers. Next, the first big batch of us were taken to the courtroom on another floor for voir dire. It was for a civil trial.

There were a bunch of us prospective jurors to go through. I was actually kind of surprised that it was something from a few years ago even before COVID19. Unless you work in the legal profession I think you don’t realize how long it takes some matters to come before a court for trial. It’s not that justice is slow per se, but there’s definitely a process that seems vastly sped up when you were watching things like “Law & Order” on TV. The judge remarked on the selection process and how it really wasn’t like the courtroom show on CBS called “Bull.”

First they went over people who had hardships who weren’t excused before coming and reporting for jury duty. Next came all of the other voir dire questions.

Then we sat there as the lawyers from both sides went over everyone’s answers as part of the selection. There were a few people next excused for hardship.

It was an interesting study in human nature because there are some people that are just so timid when it comes to speaking in public. And if you held up your number if something was applicable to a person during voir dire, you have to stand up and explain.

Then you had the lawyers deciding whom they liked for jurors. It took longer than I think even the judge expected for the lawyers to decide whom they wanted.

There was some final discussion quietly amongst the attorneys and then they chose the 12 jurors, and then they sent the rest of us home to call back again after 5 PM to see if we come back. (When I called after 5 PM, they had moved onto another numbers range of jurors.)

So yesterday after I was released from jury duty is when it started to rain and sleet. Now I had a jacket on but not as heavy as I probably should have had, and well now I feel horrible with a slight cold.

I had to get a Lyft back home from jury duty because my husband’s car was in the shop and he had my car.

Anyway, I wanted to wait in the very entrance of the courthouse just inside the doors that is before you go through the turnstiles to the main lobby. But I was told I couldn’t do that. I was told I could only wait in the main lobby or stand outside. If I had been up in the main lobby the Lyft driver never would have seen me. So basically I had to wait outside and I got wet, and it was cold and raw.

I understand they have safety precautions and protocols inside the courthouse. But they had already cleared me and gone through my purse, I had gone through x-ray and all I wanted to do was stay out of the weather near the front door and not get sick. Oh well. A cold is better than COVID-19!

And speaking of COVID-19 I should remark how everyone in the courthouse went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable now that masks are gone as a requirement. The Chester County Courthouse is also really clean and they have some of the cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever seen anywhere. They gave everyone the option of wearing masks if they were more comfortable that way. And the judge reiterated all of that when we entered the courtroom to begin jury selection.

I have to tell you that overall this was kind of an interesting experience. I enjoyed the process for the most part. It’s a good way to learn how things happen inside a courthouse.

And make sure to read Lisa Scottoline’s new book “What Happened to the Bennetts” because it’s REALLY good!

Have a good day all!

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