New York City is a pretty good place when it comes to jury duty. You are notified a couple of months out that your number is up, and that you can expect a summons to arrive. Once received, if you cannot make your assigned date, you simply call and use an automated system to designate a replacement date. Easy peasy.
I did just that the two previous times I was called. This time, however, my summons actually fell on Monday of the only week between now and September that I am not already scheduled to travel for work.
So, I did a little happy dance, packed my oversized tote with my newspapers, iPhone, iPad, charger, and bottled water, and got ready to fulfill my responsibility as a citizen of the greatest city in the world. And, as New Yorkers will tell you, do a little celebrity spotting, because nobody but nobody is excused from reporting. The jury rooms downtown on Centre Street are known for hosting famous - and infamous - folks who are appearing to do their civic duty.
Full disclosure: I am one of those people who likes jury duty, so this is not a post about trying to avoid it.
(Cue "Law & Order" theme music here).
A bit of background. Since moving to New York 20 years ago, I have been called twice. The first time, I was picked for a civil case, a trial that lasted a week. We reached a verdict on Friday night, and I was back in the work saddle in Monday morning.
The second time, I learned something very important when it comes to jury service. If you have served on a jury that reached a verdict, your odds of ending up on future juries increases dramatically. In this instance, when I was in voir dire for a criminal case, the first thing they asked potential jurors was whether they had served previously, and if so, did they reach a verdict. Everyone who could answer those two questions in the affirmative were seated for that jury. Every. Single. One. Including yours truly. Because hey, trials are time consuming and expensive, and judges and attorneys like people who can deliberate and reach decisions.
So yesterday, when I was immediately called into voir dire along with 84 other Manhattanites, I was ready to spend the week in Criminal Court. (In Manhattan, you are only required to be available to serve for five days, since judges recognize that many people cannot serve for longer trials).
However, far from being one of the "minor" cases I served on previously, this was a murder trial in a very heavily-publicized case, and expected to last three to four weeks. Since I am already scheduled to travel each of the next six weeks - not to mention the fact I remember some facts about this case - the judge dismissed me, and sent me back to the jury pool for other cases.
By 3:30 p.m., the clerk announced they did not need the rest of still sitting in the jury room, handed us our proofs of service, and sent us on our way for the next six years.
Have you ever served on a jury? If so, how was the experience?