Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jury Duty!

I got to be a petit juror today! Biked straight down Georgia Avenue, through Chinatown to the DC Courthouse. Checked in at eight o'clock sharp, failed to find internet access in the "modern business center" (they only had modem access!), so settled into the jurors' lounge with a good book - one absorbing enough to keep the TVs from being too distracting. We watched the beautifully cheesy orientation video, and around 10 am the clerks started coming in to call panels of jurists. I got called on the second shot, one of 85 jurors called. We filed out of the lounge into the atrium. The clerk lined us up in the right order. (I don't know how the order is determined, but it's very important. We always have to stay in this particular, random order.) We filed into the courtroom. We met the judge and the attorneys and the defendant and started learning about the case. Our judge speaks very slowly and not quite loud enough, which makes me sleepy.

The judge asked us 20 questions and we made notes on index cards if we felt we had a bias or an issue serving in this trial. By 12:30 the judge and attorneys were ready to start speaking to individual jurors, so those of us on the bottom half of the list got to go to lunch early. Noodle soup from Chinatown Express, consumed on the lawn of the Building Museum; a fruitless search for free wi-fi; a wander down to the National Sculpture Garden, where I finished my absorbing book; back in the courtroom by 2:10, where I sat until 4:30 reading The New Yorker. By the time we were dismissed, less than 25% of the jurors had been interrogated, so I have to go back tomorrow to witness the end of the selection process. Sigh.

I rode Georgia home again. I'd forgotten what a social road that is; I received two "ola"s and one "hey girl, you're gonna get run over" (which was NOT true). Biking on Georgia is yet another thing I never miss about working at Walter Reed.

Got home, powered on my MacBook, dove into 65 unread messages, coming up for air whenever one of my housemates came home. Scott just got home, so now I can go to bed.

I think it's funny that "petit" in "petit juror" is pronounced "pet' it" rather than "puh teet'." As in, "Go ahead, it won't bite. Pet it!"

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