When it comes to jury duty, there are two kinds of people. Those who don't mind jury duty and those who hate jury duty. I'm afraid I have to count myself in the latter group. I don't know if I would mind jury duty so much if I didn't have to go through scheduling the time off with my employer and dealing with downtown parking.
In El Paso County, Colorado, you receive a jury summons in the mail. I don't know if everyone else audibly groans when they get one but I do. It's a reflex, I can't help it. Perhaps they should make it sound more exciting, but the mailing comes complete with information about the fines and possible jail time you may have to serve if you ignore your civic duty of reporting for jury duty. I always love that part. Somehow I think they should try to make it sound more like you just won a lottery.
I always read the section about postponing or not qualifying for jury duty, but I never meet any of those qualifications. There are some qualifications, like health and disability problems, I am thankful I don't meet.
Once you have your summons, and have arranged the time off with your employer, in El Paso County, you have to call a number prior to the reporting date on the summons to see if you need to appear. Potential jurors have a number printed on their summons. If your number is called, you have to make that downtown trip to the courthouse.
Some people are on stand-by and need to call in the morning of the reporting date to see if they need to report. I think that would irritate me more than the downtown parking!
After you go through the security at the courthouse you have to go to the "Jury Duty" room and sign in. After about a half hour, they begin calling juror numbers and names to take you to the courtrooms of judges needing jurors for a trial.
This is where it always gets tricky. I have reported to be a juror many times, but I've never been selected. If it is not too late in the day, and you are dismissed from one courtroom, you have to go back to the jury room to see if all the judges needing jurors have completed their selections. There have been times when I have been to as many as three courtrooms in one day.
The judges usually give a small speech about the freedoms of American citizens, and the role of jurors in preserving those rights and freedoms before they get down to the nitty-gritty of selecting a jury.
They make sure you do not know any of the parties in the case including the judge and attorneys.
They make sure you understand the basic ideas of our legal system, they check to make sure you know that the defendant is presumed not guilty and ask if you understand the concept of reasonable doubt.
They ask you questions, sometimes a little personal, to make sure you don't have any strong leanings which would make you an undesirable juror. You know, like you think all car thieves should get a life sentence.
After going through this procedure, you are either dismissed for the day (don't forget to get your jury duty service form completed, if it is required by your employer and your parking stub validated), or you are called to serve on a jury.
In Colorado, we have a system of one day or one jury. If you are dismissed for the day, your jury duty is complete for at least the next 12 months. However, if you are called for a jury, you are there until either the end of the trial or you are dismissed by the judge.
In my heart I know jury duty is the right thing to do. It is one of the greatest provisions of our constitution and bill of rights. Our founding fathers deliberately took the decision of innocence or guilt out of the hands of the government and placed it in the hands of the people. It is an honor and a priviledge of being an American citizen. I am grateful we have this, but I still hate the downtown parking.