Tuesday, August 29, 2006

jury duty

Today I have jury duty. It seems to be an age-old joke that “everybody knows how to get out of jury duty.” How do they? Is it a secret passed on from generation to generation? As an American rite of passage I seem unable to complete the ritual.

Even my Taiwanese-born mother has mastered the art. When she was mailed her white slip of paper, she dutifully showed up at the courthouse. But when they asked her if she had any reasons why she shouldn’t be on a jury, she said with her thickly accented English, “Yes. I don’t understand what you are saying.” She was allowed to go home.

I, however, speak perfect English, have no criminal record and have no racial biases that I wish to associate myself with. But I have no yearning to serve on a jury either, I have mounds of work and deadlines waiting. What to do?

Right now, just sit in the jury waiting room, and hope that my number is not needed.


Abigail said...

From one self-employed person to another: tell them you're self-employed. That there is no one to meet your deadlines and 'keep the business open' if you are not home to paint/answer phones/whatever. It's even true!

I used to write this letter every time I got called, and I got off every time. I kind of felt it was my civic duty to go, though, so when they changed the system so you only have to go for one day, I stopped getting excused.

Grace Lin said...

really? in my "juror's handbook" it says self-employment cannot be used as an exemption.

No worries though, I was released after one day, whew!

alvina said...

I wouldn't know how to get out of it either. And anyway, I've never been called to jury duty (knock on wood). Well, I've been called at my parent's home when I've been away at college, so that always excused me. I really thought I'd be called here in NY when I changed my address, but nope. I actually wouldn't mind experiencing it and seeing how the system works (although I've heard it's kinda depressing), but I can see how it's a huge inconvenience. Anyway, glad you got released!

Abigail said...

Hmmm, rules must be different in different states. Ours says something vague about ' undue hardship.' Shutting a business down for a week seems to qualify.

renee said...

My parents, also Chinese immigrants, have great jury duty stories.

Once, my dad got to the questioning part, and was asked if he believed that defendants were innocent before proven guilty. He answered that he no longer believed in the American judicial system after watching the OJ trial. They let him go.

Irene said...

I've twice gotten out of jury duty for surprisingly legitimate reasons. I've actually been called three times, but we have the "one day or one trial" system where I live, and the first time I went in, my number was never called. The second time I was impaneled for a case that was expected to last over a week, and I happened to have an out-of-town trip planned during the expected dates of the trial. The third time I was impaneled for a case that involved a doctor giving his testimony, and believe it or not, I actually knew who the doctor was! They asked me a few questions about whether or not I thought my knowing him would affect my judgment - like would I tend to believe him more or less based on what I knew of him - and I sort of hedged around a little, so they let me go.

jjk said...

i got called for jury duty back in june. i almost got put on a very serious case for a heinous crime. fortunately, they threw away the entire jury pool. it had been widdled down from 100 or so to 50 and i was still in the running.

a big sigh of relief! that would have been my summer!