Helping Settle a Court Case

Have you been summoned for jury duty?

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There it was, a jury summons. I get the mail, flip through the normal bills, flyers, stuff that instantly gets shredded, and then whisper, “Shit.” I looked just like the guy in the “Welcome to Jury Duty” video, or whatever they called it, who opens his mail and sees his jury notice, only I didn’t see him whisper, “Shit.”

And so began my odyssey to achieve, as the “Handbook for Illinois Jurors” says, a “higher opinion of the privilege enjoyed by the free citizens of our country to participate in the administration of justice.” My journey began almost like the stages of grief. There was the denial, the bargaining, the depression, the anger, and then finally the acceptance.

First came the denial.

Looking at the summons I first hoped it was some kind of junk mail, disguised as a summons. I read it over and over again. Nope, it was the real deal. I looked at the date I was supposed to report and my “Shit” turned to “Fuck.” “I can’t go on that date. Now what?”

Enter bargaining.

Luckily for me there was an option for postponement. I went online, entered my information, did my best to explain why I couldn’t make the date assigned, and listed my preferred date to go. A little acceptance was creeping in, but welcome to anger.

Okay, at this point I skipped depression, that came a little later, but anger arrived at my door, or rather my computer, in the email saying what my new date was going to be, and it wasn’t the day of the week I requested. “What the hell is wrong with these people? Don’t they know I’ve got things to do? This date is actually worse than the previous.” And again, “Shit.” In this automated world I realized that now I would have to talk to a human being about this so the next day I called the jury people and explained I asked for a postponement, but that by not giving me the requested day I actually was given a worse day. The nice lady informed me to wait until I received my official summons in the mail, request a new date, but this time in the comments mention days that are deal-breakers. Here I was, bargaining! I was bargaining for another postponement, trying to make things better for me, yet really bargaining hoping that instead of the jury summons I would receive some glorious letter saying something like “Dear Andrew, we see you are a busy man, and we don’t want to interfere with your life. We are going to permanently excuse you from jury duty. Have a nice day!” Sometimes I live a delusional life.

With the next jury summons there came the new weeks of depression. How was I going to fit this in my busy calendar? Crap, I’m going to have to work extra on the days leading up to this to get my work done in case I’m called to sit on a jury. And with the depression came the anger.

Okay, it wasn’t really anger, mostly just being perturbed at this inconvenience that was impending on my life, and even though lots of people get this inconvenience in their life’s, I was pissed that this time it was happening to me.

It wasn’t until about the day before that acceptance hit, that “It is what it is” moment, and I should just be like every other person called to jury duty and get it over with.

The day came, I found a good parking spot, made my way through security, and realized Dupage County had a pretty nice jury waiting room with a decent view of a retention pond, bad cafeteria food (how can you screw up a tortilla wrap?), and I checked in for my civic duty.

We were shown this wonderful video mentioned earlier explaining the jury selection process, how it is a wonderful experience, and I should proud to be a part of such an important process. The peaceful waiting combined with slight nervousness of actually being called to serve on a jury began, there was the break for lunch, and finally word came down that no one was going to be called to be on a jury this glorious Wednesday. The best part was the jury people trying to make us feel better for wasting an day by explaining how sometimes the plaintiff and defendant will settle their case without going to trial just knowing that the jury is waiting for them, or some crap like that. In my head I said to myself, “Self, they aren’t settling because we are here, they are settling because getting something is better than losing and getting nothing.”

Alas, looking back, it wasn’t that horrible. Sure, I had work to catch up, but it was kind of peaceful sitting there knowing no one was really going to bug me for a day, I was able to catch up on some reading, and I didn’t get called to be on a jury that would necessitate more time away from “my life.”

A few days later after my “ordeal” I talked to someone  who was picked for a jury on a trial that lasted ten days. I suppose through the denial, the bargaining, the depression, the anger, and the acceptance that I was a lucky man in the fact my inconvenience, or rather my taking part in this wonderful judicial system, only impacted one day of my life, and I can rest assured that I won’t be summoned for jury duty for at least a year. At the end of it all, I do wonder: Have you been summoned for jury duty?

That’s it for this one! L8R!!