Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My day in court

Have you ever been called for jury service? Well I have and today I had my day in court. It’s an interesting experience and just judging from this morning’s process, I can see why it takes so long for cases to move through the courts.

There were probably 100 of us – a motley crew I might add – all shepherded into this warm, airless courtroom. At 10.15 we were advised to make a quick visit to the washroom if necessary – most of the women left. There were two toilets. An hour later, still nothing had happened.

Then we were told to form a single line and proceed up four flights of stairs. It was like being back in preschool – I quite expected to see a rope. Once in the next courtroom, we were advised about the case, saw the accused, and then given all the reasons we could use to get out of serving on the jury. They also read out all the names of the witnesses in case there was a conflict of interest.

Now this was a murder case and we’d already been warned it could be at least three months, so much as I believe we all have a civic responsibility to serve on juries – three months is pushing it, especially when you own a small business.

Those who could potentially serve on the jury were asked to leave to come back another day, while those of us wanting out of the process, had to stay. One by one we had to stand before the judge and give our reasons for asking for deferment or to be excused from the process altogether. I felt badly for those who had more personal reasons for not wanting to be involved as they had to speak up, not just before the judge, but the rest of us in court.

It was not without its funny moments – take the elderly gentleman who in a strong Scottish brogue complained that he couldn’t hear the judge, and when asked if he wore a hearing aid, quickly retorted back that he wasn’t deaf you know.

Well, I got off. I felt like I’d got out of jail, could go past GO and collect my $200. I’ve been anxious about this case for several months now, worrying about how I was going to juggle all this. But I’m off the hook… this time.

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