My Day in Court

Every day, during the holiday season, if you’re like me, you routinely check your mailbox for Christmas cards.  About two weeks ago, there, nestled between two such pieces of mail was another kind of card: a 3″ x 5″ postcard bearing the words “Jury Summons.”  There must be a certain logic that pertains to retired persons that assumes that we older folks have nothing better to with our time than to serve as jurors.  What else could account for all those white-haired seniors in the jury pool?  It’s one heck of a coincidence that since I turned 65, nearly seven years ago, I’ve already been called to serve twice.  Kind of defies the odds, wouldn’t you say?

jury-cardThe first time I was called to jury duty, I got through the swearing-in process, only to be excluded from the pool when the quota was reached before I could be interviewed.  Watching the process unfold, however, I decided then that if I got another chance, I would relish the opportunity to actually be a juror.  I could hardly wait to decide the fate of a petty thief, or a mugger.  I’d seen enough episodes of People’s Court that surely I knew how to do the right thing.  I could hardly wait.

So, I set my alarm, got up early, and packed a lunch with the positive attitude that this would be my day (for the record, I took a honeycrisp apple and a strawberry yogurt).  I arrived at the courthouse at exactly 9 a.m., the time specified on my “invitation,”  and one by one, each of us was ushered into a narrow hallway, equipped with the latest electronic scanner.  I emptied my pockets of their contents, and sauntered through the squared-off archway, eager to have my day in court.  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  The device had concluded that I was a potential threat. Boy was I surprised.  That’s impossible, I thought,  I don’t have a pacemaker or any artifical joints.  What the heck’s the problem?  “Please step to the side, sir,” ordered the sheriff’s deputy.  Then, he proceeded to wave his wand this way and that, over and around my body, resulting in even more noise.   (Eventually, I was deemed safe, however, and told to continue on.)

2003_courthouseOnce inside the main building, I followed a series of enormous arrows (much like the breadcrumbs strewn by Hanzel and Gretel) that led me to my destination: Room 270.   The whole process kind of reminded me of a video I’d seen in which a conga line of aspiring contestants moved through another long hallway to audition for American Idol.  Eventually, I joined 48 other potential jurors in a claustrophobic room with just enough seats for everyone.  The clerk of court recited some basic information regarding how we were selected and what was expected of us, and then it was time for “the movie.”  This slick production, no doubt made by an aspiring film student from our local community college, was shown on a small TV set in the corner of the room, and explained all we would ever want to know about the North Carolina judicial system.

After the movie, we were all asked to stand and be sworn in by the clerk of court.  Then it was time to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait some more.  In all, we waited for four hours.  I watched an episode of Twilight Zone on my cell phone, exchanged fish stories with the man to my right, and even texted about my predicament to my wife.   Eventually, the presiding judge entered the room and explained the situation. There had already been a slew of procedural motions and other goings-on that had been required in the morning session, he informed us, and it was expected that there would be even more during the afternoon session.  As a result, therefore, because North Carolina jury service is governed by a one day/one trial arrangement, we were dismissed.  We were free to go, and could not be called again for at least two years.

When the judge made the announcement, a great cheer went up in the room—but, friends and neighbors, there was none from me. This was to have been my big day, my shining moment, my chance to “make a difference.” Instead, I felt cheated, deflated, and downright disappointed.  However, before you go feeling sorry for me, be aware of one thing.  We jurors who are called to court, even if we are not chosen to actually serve, are compensated for our time, or “service.”  As the clerk put it, “We value your service.”  So, in about a week, I will receive another piece of mail containing a check from the Clerk of Superior Court in the amount of—hold onto your hats—twelve bucks.  You read that right: twelve whole dollars!

Shucks, and to think—I would have done it for nothing!


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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of four books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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17 Responses to My Day in Court

  1. allenrizzi says:

    My last time out, I was called for a child molester’s trial. When asked, “Do you have any preconceived notions about child molesters?” I answered honestly: “Yes, they should be euthanized!” The only response I heard was, “Next!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fisherbob says:

    You were robbed of your chance to “string ’em up” then go inside and have a nice, fair trial by lawyers going through that pesky legal process? Scandalous!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. balroop2013 says:

    Interesting!! Huh…12 dollars for whole day!! One hr. minimum wages? That is how senior citizens are honored to join a jury!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the same $12.00 whether you’re a senior or not. I don’t have a problem with that, because I believe it’s our civic duty. However, I would like to actually hear a case before I shuffle off this mortal coil (not for another 20 years, I hope). They can call you every two years, so I still have about 10 more chances . . . lol. 😉

      Like

  4. Allie P. says:

    Funny stuff. I do hate to spoil your theory, but my younger sister was just summoned as well. Then again she may just be the exception to prove the rule.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bruce says:

    I had a similar experience here in Texas, and I was also glad to do my civic duty. Fortunately, the accommodations were pretty good. Lots of room and good chairs. I got through the questions and got ready for the case specifics. This was a domestic violence murder, and at that point the potential jurors were asked for any concerns in being objective, and if they had any qualms with the death penalty. That was too emotional for me, and I had to opt out. I explained my reasons, and the judge had to understand my concerns, as the final selection had progressed to the last moment. That was the moment of truth for me, and it was a reality check. Jury duty isn’t just about auto accidents, theft or even drug use. This was the stuff on the evening news. In your living room, you can watch the story, comment to your spouse, and go on the shows recorded earlier. Fortunately, my time spent qualified me for my service, so I won’t have to come to terms with this for a few more years.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nevada is a little different. You do not have to serve if called at the age of 70 or older. I was 69 when I last received a summons. I got all of the way to where the defendants stand up in court and face potential jurors and are introduced to us. I was dismissed from jury duty after waiting 4-5 hours as legal issues were handled by the judge. They made us climb 3 flights of stairs 2 times, with security guard protection. The third time, I chose the elevator, with security guard protection. I got to the courthouse at 8 a.m. and didn’t leave until 4 p.m. We get no pay unless selected, be happy for your $12. And . . . you might be like me where you were grateful to be dismissed. The jury trial I would have served on lasted at least 8 weeks where jury members were escorted to their cars each day. The trial involved a killing by one motorcycle gang member of another gang member with a gun in a casino. Thanks, but no thanks. I did not care to have my face seen or known as a jury member on such a trial of gang members against each other. I just said when released, “Oh thank you, God, for protecting me!” I believe in doing your civic duty. I’m just glad I didn’t get chosen.

    On Sat, Jan 14, 2017 at 5:15 AM, Author Joe Perrone Jr’s Blog wrote:

    > AuthorJoePerroneJr posted: “Every day, during the holiday season, if > you’re like me, you routinely check your mailbox for Christmas cards. > About two weeks ago, there, nestled between two such pieces of mail was > another kind of card: a 3″ x 5” postcard bearing the words “Jury Summon” >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Becky says:

    Twelve dollars. Hmmmm. That’s more than I’ve made since Bios was sold and I retired. Well, your court money took care of our Chick Fil-A dinner last night, even if you didn’t get to serve. lol. Heck,I’m at the age where being paid SOMETHING for ANYTHING sounds good… Maybe I could become a serial juror…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Gerald Simpkins says:

    Just did get official summons/notice to log in to our state jury pool site for upcoming jury duty some two weeks ago. So I did. Filled out all information but left SS# blank. Discovered an option for all over 70 to opt out, so I did. Haven’t thought too much about it since, but hey, if they want us over-70 guys and gals, then take away the loophole. I don’t volunteer for anything when I do my taxes each year and I’m not starting now, and yes I do take advantage of any legal thing allowed on my tax return. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave says:

    Yeah, I’ve been through that before, but I did get interviewed and then dismissed.
    I have to go again this month also. Oh, well, I will take a good book with me.

    Dave

    Liked by 1 person

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