I love watching TV. When I was little, I would come home from school and watch sitcoms with my grandmother. Most of the antics didn’t need translation but sometimes the dialogue was tricky and I would have to translate. We loved Lucy, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island and more!
As I got older, the TV viewing compulsion held, but my tastes evolved. While I still love to laugh, good sitcoms are few and far between. My all-time favourite is the Dick Van Dyke Show and running a close second, the Mary Tyler Moore show. I got hooked on Seinfeld, as millions of people did, and I faithfully followed Cheers, but it wasn’t until Frasier that I recognized the return to excellence.
I love dramas, too – good escapist fare. Providence, Judging Amy, West Wing, Everwood, Gilmore Girls. For some reason, I’m hooked on hospital, police and legal dramas, too. LA Law, Ally McBeal, St. Elsewhere, Law & Order, Chicago Hope, The Practice, ER. I’m watching the first 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and loving it – lots of surprises, twists and turns.
I tell you this as a lead-in to what I was expecting when I got called for Jury Panel – which is like a cattle call for auditions for potential jurors. After the initial vetting process via questionnaire, I received a summons to appear at the provincial courthouse on March 6th.
I was early (made good travel time) and brought a stainless steel water bottle and a pack of mixed nuts. I brought my smartphone and a paperback, anticipating lots of ‘down time’, as friends who had this experience warned about.
I joined a line of people entering through the front door and coming into a small secure lobby. Just like at the airport, we had to put our bags and belongings into a bin and onto a conveyer belt to be scanned. Then we each went through a personal walk-through scanner. After all that, we were ushered down the hall to a large waiting room.
We presented our summons, signed in according to Panel Number and had our summons colour coded. I was green. The room held about 200 chairs and was divided into 4 colour coded sections. I was early so there were lots of available seats.
The sign-in process took about an hour, then the Court Services Officer welcomed us, introduced a short video, then proceeded with a long stream of instructions. The gist of it was – sit and wait until your name is called.
So we sat and waited. All morning. A few people were called but not me – luckily? Unfortunately? At 12:20 we were dismissed for lunch. I went to the cafeteria and had a bowl of lentil soup, a chicken sandwich with fries and water for $14. I read my book, people-watched for awhile, then went back to the panel room.
Guess what? We had to sign in. Again. So, line up, wait, check in, sit down. And wait. At 3:30, the CSO gave us an update. No one else would be called that day and, based on what happened in court, no jurors would be needed for the next two days. We were told to return on Thursday morning.
This was great news for me – I had a few projects at work that needed to be wrapped up by Wednesday.
Thursday morning I showed up at the courthouse, armed and ready. I had a sandwich, veggies, cookies and my smartphone charger. I signed in and sat down. No instructions were issued; I guess we were expected to remember from Monday. Besides, how hard is it to sit and wait? I ask you. Because my answer is –it’s not easy unless you’re prepared and if you can get up and move around a bit during the wait.
Just before noon, our friendly funny CSO came out and talked to us. “well, folks, the one case that still needed a jury has been held over so…” By then, everybody was getting up, putting on coats, gathering belongings. Yay! Free at last.
My dilemma: should I go to the office or take the rest of the day off? My boss was away, my work was caught up and I had errands to run, so I chose the latter.
All in all, a time-consuming and rather disappointing experience. I would like to serve on a jury – though not some grizzly murder trial or child abuse case. But summertime would be better; less busy at work. And in 3 years, I may be called again, so we’ll see…
Well, I loved many of the shows you mentioned, Vera. Top of the list: I Love Lucy. Thankfully, the re-runs are still on TV. Lucille Ball was a genius.
As for jury duty. I was on one. A very brutal murder trial. It was five weeks long and believe me, I never want to go through that again. I will never get the pictures out of my mind.
I brought my own lunch every day and my Kindle so I could read. There was a lot of wasted time. Things ground on very slowly and the judge was often called upon to work on other, shorter cases while we the jury sat outside the courtroom.
The selection process you describe is very like ours. I imagine most processes in Canada and the US are similar. Our accused were convicted, as they should have been. They will be in prison for the rest of their lives and I hope during that time, they are transformed.
It was instructive. I learned a great deal about the way a proper trial should be conducted and came to admire the female prosecutor who calmly and methodically laid out the case based on the facts.
I also realized how important it was that caring, fair, intelligent people sit on a jury to protect all of us from chaos. You brought all this back to me with this interesting post.
I agree Beth it’s important to do our part.
My fear was that I’d get on a long trial with grizzly images that would haunt me. I have trouble sleeping sometimes already so glad it didn’t go that way.
I am too, Vera. Some people can handle these things. I am not one of them. I hope I never have to do it again, even though I feel somewhat guilty saying that, because we need intelligent, serious people on juries. Sigh …
Yes, it’s a catch 22.