On trial… (originally titled "The Rest of the Story (almost))

You, too? The older woman noticed the juror’s summons in my hand as we waited for the courthouse elevator. I nodded and smiled as she pulled hers out from the book she was holding to her chest.

By order of the Circuit and County Courts of THE TWENTIETH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, GLADES COUNTY, you are hereby summoned to appear for jury duty at the time, date and place shown.

When you live in a rural county with fewer registered voters than members of a large church, it’s not uncommon for a juror’s summons to arrive in the mail. It can be annoying. In the past six months, I’ve been summoned three times, and each time I didn’t know until the night before if it would be necessary to report. Until then, life had to be put on hold, the calendar opened to the whims of the court.

The last two times my husband reported, prospective jurors were released shortly after signing in. In one case, the charges were dropped when an attorney failed to appear. In the other, the case was settled out of court. I hoped my experience would echo his.

As we stepped off the elevator, we joined the line that had formed outside the double wooden doors to the Board of County Commissioners room. “A jury will be picked today and the trial will begin tomorrow,” we heard as we filed in and were handed a clipboard with paperwork to complete.
I found a seat in the corner of the back row. Perfect. The room filled quickly and it was obvious that people-watching was going to be more interesting than the book I’d packed in my bag. As the two ladies to my right and I introduced ourselves, we were amused to discover that we were all three “Patricia’s”.
When everyone was seated, the clerk presented basic instructions. We would watch a video on courtroom protocol and the responsibilities of a juror, and then we could take a short coffee break before the judge arrived. The video was interesting and informative, but the judge entered the room before we could take a break. As a group, we were sworn in and asked to respond to basic questions regarding citizenship and our possible status as a felon. The judge instructed us further in the process of choosing a jury, and explained how we could respond to questioning that we’d prefer to answer in private. The bottom line was that nothing we said under oath in the courtroom could be answered privately. Every word would become part of the court record, but we could request a smaller audience. At that moment, I could not imagine what line of questioning for a potential juror needed to be answered privately, especially me. The defendant was on trial, not me. I thought.
The judge continued. Twenty prospective jurors had been chosen from the larger group summoned to be considered as jurors for the case, but everyone was ordered to stay until the process had been completed. Immediately, the clerk began calling out the names of the twenty, who were told to form a line outside the door in the order in which they were called for the bailiff to escort upstairs to the courtroom. Everyone else was reminded that they could get a cup of coffee and move about as long as they stayed close. I hope I’m not one of the twenty. I whispered to the Patricia closest to me. I’m desperate for a break.
Just when I thought the clerk had called out twenty names and I could make a bee-line for the break room, I heard Juror 46, Patricia Hunter.

Yes. I said I’d tell the rest of the story today, but I’ve decided otherwise. It’s more fun (for me) and interesting (for you) if I spread it out over the week, don’t you think?

The turtle? He’s a large gopher turtle – slowly making his way across Pollywog Creek. Gopher turtles are a threatened species in Florida. I could get in serious trouble for messing with him, so I took his picture and watched him crawl away. Honest.

8 Responses to “On trial… (originally titled "The Rest of the Story (almost))”

  1. Such suspense! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Such suspense! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I am hooked! I felt as if I was right there with you! Whatever way you chose to share is good with me. You and the turtle can take your sweet time!

  4. I don't know how I've managed to go my whole life without jury duty. I hope I never have to.I look forward to hearing more!

  5. Oh you stinker, I want the rest of the story, lol! I'm hooked now! I've only gone once for jury duty, thankfully they decided not to do a jury trial – it was a gang-related murder, and the whole gang was there.

  6. I'm on jury duty next week! I'm hoping I don't get called for a long trial!I'm also hoping my situation will make me an undesirable juror;0!

  7. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story! I can imagine why someone would want to answer privately. When I was married to first husband, I wouldn't have wanted to announce to everyone there that I was a police officer's spouse. Eeek!

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