Jury Duty in Skokie
So I got tagged for Jury Duty today (well, for the selection process anyways). When you’re summoned for the selection process, there’s a number you have to call, to see if you’re officially supposed to show up or not. You can’t call this number until 4:30 PM, the day prior to when you’re supposed to show. When I called yesterday, they wanted people with last names D through S, which is… a pretty huge range, to me. But since I fell into the net, I was slated to show up.
To combat boredom and the inevitable waiting around, I made sure my iPad was fully charged up. In the morning, as I was getting ready, I also made sure to download a lot of articles from Longform, saving them to my Instapaper account. I also made sure to download all these articles onto my iPad at home, in the off chance that they didn’t have WiFi at the courthouse (I was right, they didn’t).
I also ended up downloading the Carcassonne app (based on the popular board game). When I was talking with Matt a few weeks ago, he mentioned this being one of the games he spent a lot of time with… and I’ve been meaning to give this game a whirl. I’ve been pretty busy of late, but being stuck in a waiting room for a few hours made for the perfect excuse.
So here’s a summary of the day: I arrived at 9AM, registered, sat down. The main waiting area was quite large, with 6 or 7 rows of chairs, with 10 – 15 chairs per row. They were very comfortable, and during the morning I even saw a few people sleeping. Between each chair was a small side table, giving lots of room on either side to each person. Though it was a large with with a decent number of folks waiting, I never felt crowded or cramped in the slightest.
I began playing around with my iPad. Spent some time playing Lume, then switched over to Carcassonne. We watched an instructional video that looked incredibly dated (by about 20 years), instructing us on courtroom rules, behavior, and things we needed to know about the trial process.
I’ll say this: despite how old the video looked, whoever wrote the script for the thing was an excellent writer. You could tell someone took their time, choosing the right words, emphasizing the importance of a juror’s role in our society. It did a good job playing to my sense of civic duty – so much so that when the video ended, I felt a little pumped up.
Then… more waiting.
After a while, someone turned one of the two televisions back on and began watching The View. Normally, I can do a decent job of blocking things out if I need to, but it became impossible for me with this show. If I paid attention, it was fine; the moment I focused on anything else, the sound of everyone on the show sounded like chipmunks screeching. At a certain point, all the hosts were increasing their pitch, talking about how much money Jennifer Aniston spends on face cream and why couldn’t people leave Paula Deen alone with her disease? The moment Mario Cantone stood up and intentionally shouted out “I don’t care that she’s got diarrhea” is when I packed up and left the main waiting area.
Thankfully, there were three sets of rooms in back, designated to be “Quiet Rooms.” Each was the size of a small classroom – a few had individual tables, and one even had a large conference table. The weird thing? More than one table had a chessboard/checkboard/backgammon design painted on them, implying that there were some pieces available. I thought briefly about asking the front desk, and seeing if random people would be interested in chess.
Instead, I just plunked down at a table and spent the rest of my morning playing Carcassonne. In blessed, sweet silence:
Around 11:45AM, we were dismissed for lunch and told to come back by 1:15PM. As I left, I asked if it was normal to go through the morning without anything happening. The woman at the counter told me that there was only one trial slated, and that both parties were likely in talks.
Here’s an odd thing: as I was walking out to lunch, I kind of wanted a cigarette. Not sure if it was the boredom, but the desire to smoke came on suddenly, with surprising strength.
I was told there was a cafeteria, but it ended up being a rom full of tables and chairs, and a smaller room with vending machines. So I walked out to my car, drove down the street to Old Orchard Mall, hit up Epic Burger, and read some articles on my iPad.
I showed up back at the courthouse a little before 1:15PM, and found an empty room in back. Over an hour later, an announcement is made that the defendant in today’s case pleaded guilty. Since there was just the one case and a jury was no longer needed, we were all free to go.
For my Jury Duty service, Cook County has seen fit to pay me $17.20. If you discount lunch, I was officially on the clock for about 4 hours. What this means is that today, I was paid $4.30 an hour to play games on my iPad.
God bless America!
PS: I’m actually genuinely bummed I didn’t even get the chance to go through the selection process. It worked out well, since I’m working on a fairly sizable project at my job (and it would have wreaked havoc had I been stuck on a case for multiple days). But I would like the chance to serve, to be part of a jury and go through the whole process.
Since my first time, I feel like I didn’t get a job I interviewed for. And though being dismissed means I’m done with Jury Duty for another year, I kind of want my chance at bat. That same feeling is there, with me thinking I would have been a good juror! I would have been totally impartial! I would have listened carefully to everything, even the bullshit stuff!
Oh well. There’s always next year.
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