When I lived outside the city limits during 2009, 2010 and 2011, I’m not sure the folks at the criminal justice center at 13th and Filbert Streets knew what to do. After all, we’ve been sharing the jury duty process together for many, many years, and suddenly I wasn’t there. Now that I’m back in Philly, for less than a year I might add, I shouldn’t be surprised that they called me again. Obviously, they missed me.
Perhaps they should have a program similar to the airlines’ frequent flyer miles program for jurors like me, although I may not like what the reward would be. A free trip to Holmesburg Prison, for example, doesn’t sound too appealing. I’m not sure how many times I’ve actually served, but I know I’m well into the double digits, up to 15 or 20 by now, and I’ve been selected for three different criminal jury panels in the process, one that had me tucked away at the Holiday Inn in center city with no outside contact for two and a half weeks. Can you imagine that I thought it would be an interesting experience? Silly me.
It all makes me wonder what constitutes an attractive juror. What makes me appeal to both the defense and the prosecution? Am I the intelligent choice, or do they think I’m stupid? Do I have sucker stamped on my head, making me appear to be an easy target? Do I look compassionate or like I’m ready to pull the switch on the electric chair?
I remember one juror asking the bailiff on the jury panel that had us sequestered why he was selected. He just shook his head and smiled, and then he turned to look at me and said, “I was in the room when they selected you.” He wouldn’t tell me anything more, which left we wide open to imagine all types of possibilities. I clearly remember when the judge questioned me alone in the courtroom. We got into quite a lively discussion about the death penalty, since it was a capital case, and I am opposed to it. He asked me if I had trouble following the law, a loaded question if there ever was one, and when I answered no, he said that’s all he needed to know, and about five minutes later, as I waited in the hallway, I was informed that I was selected as juror #3.
I’m asking that you send good vibrations my way today. I don’t want to be selected, and I’m not willing to compromise myself and lie just to get out of it. I always think that one day, God forbid if I need a jury, the karma of lying to get out of jury duty will come back and bite me. So, I’ll be sitting in that big juror room, watching game shows with other possible jurors, and most likely thinking the same thought as everyone else.
“When the hell are they going to let me out of here?”