There is no such thing as an impartial jury because there are no impartial people. There are people that argue on the web for hours about who their favorite character on ‘Friends’ is. ~~ Jon Stewart
I was summoned for jury duty this week. I was not annoyed. I did not try to think of ways to get out of it. I do not think I had better things to do with my time. My so-important self notified my boss and staff about the upcoming obligation. My so-very-busy calendar was cleared by my secretary. I showed up at the courthouse at the appointed time, WITHOUT my cell phone or other electronic devices, as directed in BOLD print on my notice. It was an opportunity to observe some interesting human behavior.
First, some people are really bad at following directions. Cell phones, Kindles and IPads were evident all around. In a pool of approximately 50 people, I counted no less than 15 electronic devices. I did not consider it promising that 30 percent of the jury pool could not follow basic, simple instructions.
[Note to self: These are not the people I want on my jury, should I ever have the need for one. Which I will not. Because I will not get caught.]
Second, some of the potential jurors were clearly dissatisfied about this imposition on their lives and made sure that the rest of us knew it. Loudly. The old game of “first complainer doesn’t have a chance” got underway, as like-minded dissatisfied people gather to one-up the last story about just how put out they are at having been summoned to do their civic duty.
Meanwhile, I am making notes in the little notebook I carry in my purse, and garnering suspicious looks from the complainers. [That’s right people, notebooks were not banned from the jury room and I am making notes about you in mine!]
Interestingly, this jury pool could not have existed for any trials in the time of MBTB. We were comprised of the usual 50ish% percent male/female, and 12% minorities. In the 1920s, approximately 60% of the group assembled was ineligible for jury duty. Although the Eighteenth Amendment allowing women the vote had become law, women were still fighting to be allowed to sit on juries in most states. And minorities of both genders were excluded completely.
I was not selected to serve. But despite my many deficiencies, I got the chance to participate. I returned to my oh-so-important regularly scheduled life in the afternoon, which was great, because my calendar was clear!
And I have notes.