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Have Your Day (or two or three..) In Court

Recently I was summoned by the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria as a possible juror.  Today I was selected as a member of a Petit Jury to hear a medical mal-practice suit.  The judge said the trial could take all this week, and possibly extend into next week as well.  Oh boy!  Usually twelve people serve as criminal juries, and seven for civil juries.  Since ten of us were called, we could not tell if that meant the trial we would hear was more than civil, but less than criminal.  Hmmmm.  We all agreed the whole process is fascinating, but not quite as glamorous as "Law & Order" or as funny as "Night Court".  (Does anyone remember the honorable Harry T. Stone who presided over the New York Manhattan Night Court?  Maybe I'm showing my age).  

After arriving at the courthouse, I was directed to the jury assembly room, along with ninety other folks.  With that many folks, I expected to see someone I knew, and I did - a church friend.  After everyone was checked in and we waited a bit, we viewed an orientation video regarding the judicial court process.  After another wait, roughly 35 people (including me) were called out and escorted to a courtroom where a trial is taking place for the jury selection process.  The judge started with a short statement describing the case, and identified the parties to the case and their lawyers.  Then counsel for the plaintiff, and then the defense, asked questions which we were required to answer truthfully - the "Voir Dire".  The questions were to find if any panel members had a personal interest in the case or if there is some other reason why they could not render an impartial verdict.  For a time there, it felt like everyone needed to have their five minutes of fame to speak and make themselves known to the lawyers.  I guess having facial hair does not have the same stigma as in years past ("you are hiding your face; what else are you hiding?").  Anyway, I was selected.  I think they liked that I maintained eye contact while I listened or when I spoke. 

We heard opening arguments before lunch,  In the afternoon, we heard the testimony of the 1st witness, complete with cross-examination and re-direct before recessing at 4:30 p.m.  The judge seemed perturbed there were no other witnesses available for us to continue.  She obviously felt we lost an hour,  so we start early tomorrow (9am).  Okay, that's all I can say.  You know, no discussing the details of the case with anyone.... blah, blah, blah....  It's all very intriguing and exciting.

Like good citizens who vote (since voting maintains your bitching rights), Jury Duty is just another opportunity to celebrate our citizenship.  WOO HOO!