Monday, May 30, 2011

Jury Duty

So there I was, called for jury duty. I can't really complain as I'd never been called since I became a citizen in 2002. I was called many times before that but due to "alien" status, never required to serve. It was just that there's a lot going on in my life at the moment, and last week was not the best. Unfortunately there wasn't a box for "really busy", so I turned up.

What a colossal waste of time and money. It's no wonder the state of Illinois is bankrupt.

In this state it's one day/one trial, unlike some states which require you to serve or be on standby for two weeks and other durations.

I followed directions to the far south west side of Chicago - not the most salubrious of areas, but one in which you'd expect to find a massive criminal court. I parked in an equally huge parking lot/car park and followed another woman clutching a jury summons into the official building.

First step, the security line. Let me just say that I will never complain about airports again. We were herded (the guilty and the innocent) into two lines, for males and females. Having a full set of teeth and a covered up cleavage, I stuck out like a sore thumb so thought it wise to bury my jury summons deep in my handbag. You never know what might set these people off.

Then I sat for seven hours in a large jury waiting room. SEVEN hours.

There were probably about three hundred potential jurors in the waiting room. None of us were even called till 12.15, and then they announced a lunch hour at 12.30pm. I didn't leave the room as I'd wisely brought a banana and two tangerines. By about 2.30pm, around a hundred people had been called in small groups and spirited away, I know not where.  The rest of us were dismissed and given our pay checks - a whopping $17.

As I said, what a waste of time and money.

We have a new mayor in Chicago who's promising big changes and a reduction in sloppy beaurocracy. I think I might write to him about the absurdity of calling more people than is possible to process in one day. Apart from the waste in the $17 checks we all get, there's the people who print the checks, the people who tell us to line up for them, and the people who hand then out to us. I think a sensible look at processes like this could have us back on budget in no time.


  1. I received jury summons in the US all the time - but of course could never go because I wasn't a citizen. Thank God for small mercies, by the sound of it. Your description of lining up was hilarious!

  2. That's ridiculous! 7 hours waiting around is absurb. Don't they think people have a life?!!

    CJ xx

  3. They didn't dismiss you until 2:30?!! That's ridiculous! They must have know long before then whether they needed you or not! Our (admittedly small) courthouse seems to dismiss people by 11:30. I've been called 3 times - we always have to call the night before to see if we even have to show up. Once I was told not to show up, once I was released by 10:00, and once I ended up on a jury.

    We have the one day/one trial thing here too - except for federal court, where you end up being on standby for several weeks. DH was on call for that one year exactly when we'd booked to go to the UK (a long-planned trip that we weren't about to cancel.) He never managed to get anyone in the system to respond to him about whether he was excused because of his travel plans. We left the country anyway!

  4. I think there is a lot of waiting around and time wasting wherever you are, to be honest. It is in the nature of legal systems, I suspect, some of my friends in the UK had similar experiences to what you've described in England too.

    I managed to last 44 years in England without being called up and my alien status prevents that from happening to me here in Florida, I believe. So I don't know if I will ever get to experience jury service!


  5. That must seem like a waste of time and money and you must have been really hacked off.
    Another experience in life though!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  6. I suppose the good thing is they can't call you for a year now so that's me in the clear for a while. I wouldn't really mind serving on a jury but not when I'm busy!

  7. I'm with Almost American, that is a long time to keep you. It is hard to be specific until the day of because cases might plea bargain or settle off the docket, but by mid morning a good clerk should know how the day is panning out.

  8. I just about escaped the jury service here as they hadn't on their records that I was away for a year, i.e. lived here for less than the required time. Phew.

  9. LOL you and your banana and two tangerines. That cracks me up. Ditto the full set of teeth and covered up cleavage.
    booh hiss to the jury crapola. What a waste of time and energy.

  10. Waste of time? Tsk tsk, you. It's a privilege to be part of the democratic process in this way. Boring day, though.

    Were you being deliberately suggestive with the banana and two tangerines?

  11. Good question. I want to hear this.


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