Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jury Duty: An Exercise in Bureaucratic Inefficiency

About a month ago I received notice in the mail that I had jury duty. At first I was kind of looking forward to it. I was ready to be part of a jury and send some dirty criminals to jail. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how our legal system functions. Then I remembered our legal system functions about as well as a glue-huffing carnie operating the tilt-a-whirl. That’s why criminals like O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, and Bill Clinton are still running around free when they should be behind bars, and some old coot who spilled hot coffee on herself was able to sue McDonald’s for her own stupid mistake (not that I don’t hate McDonald’s, I just hate bullshit lawsuits even more).

Anyway, I was looking forward to the learning experience I presumed jury duty would be. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t get assigned to a trial, but considering most people try to get out of jury duty, I figured I had a shot at seeing some action. I was well aware that even if I was assigned to a case, it would probably some unimportant trial to determine whether or not Quantrell owes Laquanda money for smoking her crack stash. Still, I maintained the hope that I would be part of an interesting trial of some actual importance where my decisions as part of the jury would have some positive affect on the city in which I live.

What a wake up call going to jury duty really was. I had to get up at 6:45 and be at the pompously titled Hall of Justice by 7:45. I hate getting up that early unless I’m getting paid. Once there I was sent through a metal detector to ensure that I didn’t have anything dangerous on me (like a safety pin or a pair of scissors). I was pulled aside and questioned by a guard that was either as tired as I was, or dumber than a guard should be. Apparently he was perplexed by my wallet chain. He asked me if it was “some kinda belt or something.” I explained that it was an anti-theft wallet chain and while it could potentially be used as a weapon, I only wore it because I didn’t want some asshole running by and ganking my wallet.

They confiscated it and told me I could get it back when I left. Damn! They were too clever for me. My plan was to use my wallet chains to disable every single gun-toting guard and police officer in the building, take a room full of over 100 potential, cranky jurors hostage, and keep the SWAT team at bay while I make my demands to the police officer on the loud speaker. The same people who think this scenario is a possibility must be the same people who think an old lady with Parkinson’s disease and some toenail clippers is capable of hijacking an airplane.

After that nonsense I walked into the jury lounge. It was a large room with rows of uncomfortable metal chairs. After sitting for about twenty minutes, a judge who looked older than the city itself came in and gave a speech about being part of a jury, and fulfilling our civic duty. It was almost inspiring. Then we were told to await further instructions.

So, I sat there for several hours reading, waiting for something to happen. I like reading but the people around me made it less enjoyable. There was some guy behind me coughing like he had TB, some smelly guy in front of me listening to techno on his headphones so loudly I could hear it, there was daddy’s little princess bleating into her cell phone for three hours straight, and this young Asian couple making out like they were in the alley behind Big Jim’s Liquor Store. I continued reading but I was pretty pissed off.

Hours and hours of putting up with the sights and sounds (and smells) of stupid people go by before an announcement is made over a loud speaker. “Lunch break, all jurors must be back by 1:30. Thank you.” Dammit! Weren’t there any trials today? I sat through lunch reading in the nearly empty room. The waiting still sucked but at least there were fewer people in the room.

After lunch all of the people came back, full of cheap food and smelling of onions and Taco Bell burps. Thank god for that recycled air, heaven forbid we open a fucking window or at least issue mandatory breath mints.

After a few more hours there was an announcement and finally some names were called. My name was not called so I sat patiently reading, waiting for more names to be called, and wishing I had a drink. About and hour later some more names were called, not mine though, and I continued waiting. A short time later the announcement was made that all the necessary jurors had been selected and the rest of us could go home. What a gyp.

So after all that time, I was free to leave having accomplished nothing other than getting pissed off. How inefficient is that bullshit. The city calls over 100 people to jury duty, we sit for over seven hours and then only about 40 people’s names were called. There’s got to be a better way to do this. It’s just another case of bureaucratic nonsense going completely unchecked. The next time I get called for jury duty, I’m telling them I’m a felon.

5 comments:

HighMaintenanceHussy said...

Or take a cue from Homer Simpson, and tell them you're prejudiced against all races.

drunkbh said...

Shit. I never thought of saying I was a felon.

morbid misanthrope said...

If they make me go to jury duty again, I'm going to kick a judge in the nuts. Stupid judicial system.

neko said...

that's rather retarded.

but, what do you expect?

morbid misanthrope said...

neko -- I was just really looking forward to saying, "He's guilty as hell, your honor. Hang that motherfucker."

Civic duty my ass....