I was on jury duty this week. Unlike my first time as a juror, six years ago, this experience felt a lot more...coerced. I felt like I had been conscripted into something unpleasant. At every step of the way, people reminded us that it was our duty to be there, that it was an inconvenience, that we may be occupied for the next several weeks, that they would let us go as soon as possible but not yet, and that the fate of our democracy depended on our presence in the sad little waiting room. It was like a hostage situation, but more principled.
I had two close brushes with juryhood. The first case was an attempted assault. Someone was accused of beating a Christmas tree vendor with a bicycle chain. The second case was a murder and at attempted murder. That trial would last several weeks. The death penalty would not be an issue before us. We were not to look up this case on the Internet. There had been media attention before, and there would likely be more attention to come. Can we handle that?
Well, I guess I could, probably, but it's not really a good time for me to spend a month as a juror. Not when we're going to Spain and already got Alice a passport, a hellish process involving four post offices in two states. When I made this excuse before the judge I felt very spineless and pathetic, whimpering my way out of jury service. I was excused and sent to a different room upstairs where I got my letter stating that I was done with jury service until 2017, which so far is convenient for me.
Last week was exhausting, with graduation activities and jury duty. This coming week I have two work retreats, and the slow transition into the summer season of the academic calendar. I'm also trying to submit a story to a few publications/contests with a May 31 deadline, so that should keep me occupied too.