I did my civic duty yesterday and reported for jury duty. Having been a driving and voting member of the populace for almost 20 years, one would think jury duty would have popped up before. But neither Chicago or Cincinnati called on me, and Omaha asked me to serve two weeks after I would have left for Arizona. But here, finally, I would get to test my powers of reason, ethics and democratic ideals in the finest branch of government; the judiciary.
After biking down to the Courts at 7:30am (when it was already 90 outside), I hung around the door with the 30 or so other jurors waiting to be let into the building. Nice that they ask you to get there at 8:00am but won't open the doors until 8:00am precisely. Thankfully it was cloudy. Screening at the Courts turns out to be more restrictive than even the airports. I practically had to strip to my shorts before the metal detector gave me the green light.
I'd like to say that I served faithfully and impartially, wisely deciding the case on the merits of the facts, unswayed by prejudice. But after an hour and half of watching the Travel Channel and reading my book, a couple of cups of free but bad coffee, and a short, uneventful trip around the bathroom corridor and the smoking porch, they let me go. They let all of us go. The defendent had settled and they had no other cases. I volunteered to go ahead and try some Enron executives or perhaps a corrupt Republican official--I'm sure J.D. Hayworth must have something on which we could convict (failure to think humanely and rationally, perhaps)-- but the judge politely refused and quickly closed the door behind me.
Having fulfilled my civic responsibility (catch phrase used no less than 15 times in the ten minute video indoctrination for jurors), I am off the hook for the next 18 months.