Jun 11, 2009

On Jury Duty and Luck of the Draw

A couple of months ago I received that most dreaded of pieces of mail: the jury summons. Given the fact that I had a hectic schedule, I bargained with the court for a rescheduling, hoping that the date further in the future would fit better.

Now, I am not by nature one to shirk civic responsibility, but serving on a jury is to me one of the least productive ways I can serve my community. Heck, I would rather cut weeds on the roadside or pull tree trunks out of a drainage creek than to be bored out of my skull sitting all day in that waiting room watching a bunch of sappy films from 1985 like they always show.

I was once the master of getting people out of jury duty when I owned my own business. I composed the most heartfelt letters explaining how Employee X was the most valuable employee on my staff, and how my struggling business would collapse overnight if I lost Employee X for the two critical days that jury duty required.

Interestingly, when I wrote letters on my own behalf about how I could not afford to be away from my business all that time, my own requests were denied, and I was forced to twice sit on jury panels. That must have been karma paying me back for getting a dozen or two people out of jury duty.

Anyways, my stay of execution (pun intended) passed, and on I was due to serve Wednesday and Thursday of this week. On Tuesday night, though, I received gratifying news on the court phone system: All jurors scheduled for Wednesday were no longer needed.

Hallelujah! My time in judicial purgatory had been cut in half, and I received what was in essence a free day yesterday to catch up on work. Yet I kept looking at the clock, knowing that I knew of no one in the history of jury service who lucked out two days in a row.

I almost did not want to make the call, what with the euphoria of my one-day freedom waning. I dialed the number, and to my utter surprise the voice on the recording told me the following words of joy:

"All jurors scheduled for service on Wednesday and Thursday are excused from service."

Forget your Mega Millions or PowerBalls, people. I hit the Grand Bifecta of good fortune, and no one will convince me otherwise that I may be at the start of an incredible streak of luck. Best of all, I am off the hook for at least a couple of years, at which point I will drag out and rub my Lucky Jury Summons of 2009.

You just never know.


LTLOP said...

This little tidbit from a law prof who happens to be in a position to know: You look directly at the judge and state that you can tell if someone is guilty just by looking at them. Its worth a shot.

Hooda Thunkit (a.k.a. Dave Zawodny) said...

Failing that, pass your time waiting by fashioning bits of cord into little nooses.

(Hint: Make sure that you have 13 turns or loops in a classic noose..., for good luck...)

Jim Styro said...

My views may seem quaint - but it concerns me that so many people who I feel generally possess good judgement, a decent education, and who seem to be otherwise thoughtful folks - appear to have given up on our justice system.

And if my peers can no longer be bothered to participate in a jury to determine my guilt or innocence (should that ever come to pass), I will be - and I think we all will be - shit out of luck.

Perhaps that seems overly dramatic - but I think the logical conclusion here is inescapable. If the only people who have to play (on a jury, in the military, on the schoolboard) are the people who can't get out of it - or have an axe to grind - the system will not work as designed.

Don't mean to rain on anyone's parade. I hope you used this "gift of time" wisely.
Take care, Mikey.

historymike said...


Good call. I once got out of jury duty in Detroit when I was 18 by telling the defense attorney I was the son of a Detroit cop. Instant dismissal.

historymike said...

Hooda Thunkit:

Dark humor, but some judges might slap you with contempt of court.

historymike said...


Your views are not quaint, but in Toledo the jury selection system is a real hardship for many people. They pay $10 for a half-day and $20 for a full day, plus you have to pay $6 or so for parking. In addition, many people get little or no compensation from their employers.

If we really want to encourage participation in jury duty, we should enact legislation either mandating employer compensation (with no penalty in annual days off) or simply pay a reasonable wage for the duty (say, $15 an hour).

Oh, and get a better selection of movies in the jury waiting room, and maybe buy the jurors a few pizzas or something.