SO, WHAT IS JURY DUTY REALLY LIKE?
Updated: Oct 18, 2018
So, the letter arrived and you have been summoned. Hear my firsthand account of the jury duty selection process.
So, this is not your typical Grace on Careers post. But, many people have not had the absolute pleasure of experiencing the joys of jury duty. In March I got the letter in the mail requesting / demanding my presence at the court room today. And I thought I would share my jury duty experience as it unfolds...
First, it snowed terribly last night in Hamilton. And not wanting to be late for my civic duty, I left at 8:03am to make my 9am court appearance. After finding a pretty decent parking spot for $7 (which the court does not reimburse) and meeting a follow juror, we headed to Tim's for a tea. Now, thank God for that tea, because the line up to get inside the court house was like 50 people long. That tea kept me warm on this chilly and wet morning.
So, I pass security and make my way up to the juror's waiting area right on time for 9am. Good thing I was on time, because I sat for 55 minutes until roll call. No, the court attendants did not check you off a master list when you arrived. One person yelled your juror number, while around 160 potential juror's listened in silence and responded "here". The attendant told the group at 10am that the entire lot of us would head into the court room and our juror numbers would be drawn at random for presentation to the judge (I assume this was what your number would be called for, since they did not actually say). So, after a quick bathroom break I was ready for court.
Change in the process. Apparently, the first 60 juror numbers will be entering the courtroom. The first number was 34. My number is 5625... Now, the numbers are not sequential, but, you get the idea. So, I have made some previous juror friends this morning. One lady has been called 5 times and one man served on a 6-month murder trial 10 years ago. But the same man also was waiting to be called for 2 and a half days last time!
First rejected juror is back and has all the updates for the juror squad that I have formed. (My squad includes a retiree, gardener, and a stay atoms mom). Here is the deal:
You go inside the courtroom
Someone picks your number out of a box
If your number is picked, you go to the stand
Once at the stand, someone asks you if you have a reason to be excused
If you do not, or your reason is rejected, you are selected or excused based on your appearance - Ie. No one asks you a single question, you are simply selected or not selected
Now, I have no good reason to not be selected other than the fact that I have a really busy week at work and have a lot to get done (which I do not think cuts it).
The trial is a sexual assault trial expected to last 5 days. My excused juror informant thinks there are too many women on the panel that have already been selected, so my chance to be selected may be decreasing.
So, a little exploratory digging with my squad. There is a website that lists all of the jury selections and corresponding cases. And, these would be hard trials to be a part of. Although, to be fair, my neighbour here said that the cases are on trial because they are all not very pleasant. Good point.
After a short 20 minute lunch break (from the tedious morning of sitting). The judge came out and addressed the group. First, he informed us that his jury has been fully selected and thanked us for our patience. He next apologized for our wait this morning outside in the cold and explained this is not the process and all jurors should have been let inside immediately. After our morning, I really appreciated his genuine address to the group. I also wanted to clap after his little speak, but no one else did, so I felt a bit awkward.
However, the wait continues. The second trial is currently selecting jury members upstairs on the 7th floor. Us 6th floor jurors must wait around until that jury is fully selected in case they need to expand their selection.
Mental note - bring better snacks (a granola bar is insufficient).
Rumours are flying. Apparently the 7th floor has only selected zero jurors out of 14. Oh no.
Th 6th floor crew is on lunch break until 2:15pm. Lovely. The court attendant has told us to expect to be here until the end of the day. Being absolutely starving, off to lunch I go.
There is good news and bad news we are told as we return from lunch. The good news, we are free to go. The bad news, we will all be getting back together tomorrow morning!
My squad has grown. Apparently we have begun to be known as the "informed people" and other potential juror's want to be in the know. We welcome a dismissed juror from Trial #1, a very tall moustache man and a few others that are not quite part of the squad, but actively listen to our intel.
We have now also moved to the 7th floor to be apart of the Trial #2 selection process. All of the 7th floor crew with excuses have been dismissed and the remaining available jurors are sitting in the courtroom getting ready to be on the stand in front of the judge. There are 70-80 people from the original 7th floor. 14 need to be chosen. That means only like 15% of people need to be selected from that room. My odds are looking good to be not be selected. My odds are looking bad to be here allll day. Good thing I brought grapes, carrots and a wifi stick!
Ps. I walked by Gary Church today (the one accused of the sexual assault changes against his coworkers). It was a bit odd to just walk by someone who may have done something so awful. This has reminded me to not go into elevators alone. The Bosma trial is also happening next door and I do not want to be stuck in an elevator with Dellen Millard.
So, this is down the final selection process went down. My squad watched and counted as the 7th floor jurors left the court room. We evaluated jurors based on a few factors:
Jacket on or off
Smile or no smile
Those that exited the room with their jacket off and no smile were our winners. Those people headed down the hall to what we presume was the official jury panel. Those with jackets and smiles headed straight to the elevator and were on their way home for the day. Our retiree squad member was the first to notice this trend and started our tally. We did have a few misses when a jacket was on, the person was smiling and they headed down the hall. We chalked this up to the bathroom location.
At 11:20 the announcement was made - all jurors were selected and we were welcome to leave. I AM OFFICIALLY NOT A JUROR!
The squad, although very bonded over the last two days, said "goodbye and thank God I do not have to see you tomorrow!"