Friday, July 2, 2010

The Rural Juror

I registered to vote not because I like to vote but because I like the idea of getting a letter one day asking me to put my entire life on hold in order to agonize with 11 other people over the fate of another human being, and then going back to my life right where it left off. It seems like a very surreal thing to do. Most people I know try to get out of it but when I got my pre-screening form a few weeks ago I stretched it a little bit when I didn't mention anything about having a two-year-old, a car that is increasingly unreliable, and the fact that every time I'm away from the house something catches on fire or floods. After a month I had given up on being chosen but yesterday I got a letter informing me that I'm to appear in Little Rock on Tuesday - that's federal.

I guess they need a jury for a lot of things, boring things and very exciting things alike. Right now the biggest trial in Arkansas is that of Randeep Mann. He's a doctor who practiced here in Russellville who, in addition to supporting the addictions of the drug-using population of Northwestern Arkansas, had an arsenal of illegal weapons and possible ties to terrorist organizations. I can say all of that because it says on my letter that any message I might hear when I call the "juror hotline" regarding his case DOES NOT APPLY to me, I'll be a juror for something else - if I'm chosen. I'll probably get some tax law thing or something that has to do with property lines. It sounds exciting to get a murder trial or some case that will bring me face-to-face with something or someone I've never seen before, but now that that is an actual possibility I'm a little nervous. Despite what I said before, I don't want to be the tossed coin that determines another person's fate, whether a murderer or tax evader or jaywalker. I like the sidelines and I do everything I can not to affect the lives of other people.

Despite my recent anxiety I think it will be nice to kind of take a day, go somewhere, do something I've never done. I like answering questions about myself. I think there will probably be a lot of waiting around during which I can finally get some reading done. I don't know if they'll give us lunch or not, I'd like that though. I might meet some interesting people, people who probably don't want to be there. If I meet someone who does want to be there I'll know I've found a kindred spirit and we'll probably be lifelong friends. I'll update on Tuesday (or Wednesday) if I'm not sequestered.

(Thanks Tina Fey for "The Rural Juror.")


  1. They select you based off car registration now! At least that's what happened to me in St. Louis.
    I freaked them out and they didn't choose me.
    I'm normal, it's what I wanted ;)

    Yeah, that makes perfect sense. You'll have time to read!

    What's weird is while in the screening process I met this really awesome chick named Sarah and we hit it off. Unfortunately we're not in touch anymore, but it can happen for you too! :D

    Have fun and thanks for enjoying your civic duty.

  2. I got called for jury duty about 2 years ago for a capital murder case. I always thought it would be interesting to sit on one of those juries, but when I actually had the possibility to be chosen for one, I freaked out. This guy took 2 people's lives, and now I could be part of deciding whether this guy lived or died! It's fine if someone else makes that decision, but I sure don't! I had to sit in the court along with all the other potential jurors and listen to the judge give a one hour talk about what constitutes capital murder and the requirements for giving the death penalty. I was having an anxiety attack the whole time because no one was allowed to leave! If someone left, she had to stop her talk until everyone was present. To top it off, I wore some Clarks shoes that I hadn't worn in years, and they disintegrated on the way to the court house! The soles were detaching from the leather top. I had floppy clown shoes.