Jury Duty

Posted: August 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I received the jury duty summons weeks ago. These episodes always occur when you least expect them, right? This is how the game of chance works. I hadn’t thought about jury duty in ages. The last time I was called up for jury duty was over 14 years ago. I showed up to the county justice center in the late ‘90s for a total of two days. I was about to be seated on a jury back then, but JudgeDavis didn’t need me. I wasn’t insulted and found him to be quite entertaining.

This time around, I thought it was going to be payback. Things always equal out in the end game, I reasoned, so I was prepared for a long, drawn-out trial where I would be the jury foreman stuck in a room debating someone’s innocence or guilt with my fellow Gwinnettians.

I phoned Sunday night to see if I was needed for Monday morning. No dice. Great, they won’t need me at all, I thought. Monday was a day like any other as I shuttled my daughter to her activities and a physical at her doctor’s office. I phoned that evening and I was to appear. Yikes, this is it. I’m ready to be part of a Law and Order: SVU episode.

The crazy thing about being called up for jury duty was that I have been spending more time in Lawrenceville due to the hectic things going on in my life these days. I love our county seat. The route to get there from Peachtree Corners isn’t that bad, but the miles just add up and my poor little car doesn’t need the beating.

The line to get into the jury room was snaking on the second floor at 8:00 a.m. on the beautiful Tuesday morning. Once I got in the line, it moved quickly as the efficient administrative staff processed our jury duty badges. We were quickly seated, shown a 1990s-looking video about jury duty service and then organized by administrators and courtroom bailiffs. Some folks were shown the door by 10:30 a.m. I wasn’t one of those lucky people. Names were called out. People were re-shuffled, given numbers and some groups were ushered off to be seated in courtrooms.

Eventually, me and what seemed like 40 people were seated as potential jurors. I brought my reading materials as suggested, but no newspapers. So, I caught up on the latest news with anything that had to do with J. Lo, Cee-Lo and any other kind of “lo” in showbiz news.

My fellow potential jurors and I waited on pins and needles wondering just how long we would be held captive in the justice center. The bailiff updated us from time to time saying that he had no idea what was going on in the courtroom. He reminded us to take plenty of bathroom, drink and snack breaks because any grouping of us could have been called to the courtroom at any moment.

It was coming up on noon and folks were getting hungry. When I feared a bad scene filled with grumbling people, Judge Turner actually came up to our group and informed us that we were not needed for the day. Just like Judge Davis, I was impressed that Judge Turner was incredibly personable.

Over the past few months, I got to know about a half dozen of Gwinnett’s judges and I must say that they are truly fair, impartial and professional. If there’s one thing that I learned by spending so much time at the justice center, I discovered that we ought to be proud of having such great judges dealing with so many matters in this massive county. I’m inspired by them.

But, it’s true what is said about the jury duty process. Jury duty is part of our justice system which gives everyone a fair shot at being heard and judged as fairly as possible. That fact alone is comforting.

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