When I reported for Grand Jury duty today, I got some fantastic news right off the bat. Our duties would require us to be there today and tomorrow, then two days in October, and that's it.
Whew....what a relief.
I won't go into details about each and every case we heard today. Mainly because I'm not supposed to, but also because they really aren't that exciting. Suffice it to say there are some really dumb criminals out there. Uh...... alleged criminals.
We gathered in a courtroom at first, waiting for the judge to arrive and "charge" us. The bailiff said we would only be there about 15 minutes. I later heard him tell someone, "I meant 15 minutes AFTER the judge gets here." He was still wrong.
The judge started off by thanking us for our service and telling us what an important role we play in the judicial process. He explained that the concept of the grand jury came from English law about 900 years ago. I was afraid he was going to tell the whole 900-year story, and he was still talking almost an hour later.
The clerk said we had too many jurors, and I got my hopes up. Then they said they would keep the first 23 on the list, and I realized immediately my name had been called toward the beginning of the list. (They were NOT in alphabetical order.) The judge asked if serving would create a hardship for anyone, and two people raised their hands. They approached the bench to explain themselves.
I couldn't hear what the woman said, but she was excused. Then came the Harley dude. I saw his Harley parked outside, and he appeared wearing a Harley t-shirt and jeans. The bailiff had to ask him to remove his cap and sunglasses. INSIDE the courtroom. Duh. He approached the bench to tell why he should be excused, but then he spoke loudly enough for everyone in the court to hear him.
The bailiff had told us that we could only have water inside the courtroom, nothing else. He ALSO said we would be there for only about 15 minutes or so, and we could have snacks and anything else in the Grand Jury room. The Harley dude started off by telling the judge he had to have soft drinks available. He can't drink water because it dries his mouth out due to his medication.
Then he said he couldn't sit for long periods of time because he has a really bad back.
Then he said he has problems paying attention.
I couldn't hear what the judge said in response, but he was very nice to him. Nicer than I would have been. He was also excused. And I'm glad.
The judge, the clerk, the court reporter, the district attorney, and the assistant district attorney then left the room so we could elect a foreperson. When they left, the woman beside me turned to me and asked, "Are we picking the four people who can leave?"
Foreperson. Not four people. I gently explained to her what a foreperson is. Then I said a little silent prayer that I will never have to appear before a jury of my "peers" in my county.
The process was a painless but arduous one. I was tired and a little grumpy by the time I got home. I think instead of a flat $25 per diem they pay us for Grand Jury duty, they should pay us according to the sacrifice we made to be there.
For my last day of summer vacation, they should be willing to pay me enough for a down payment on the marsh house.
I'm just sayin'.....