Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Duty Free

Today I spent yet another day in Jury Duty.

Within 20 minutes of getting there, I along with 75 others, were pulled into a court room to be possible candidates for a murder trial. We were asked a series of questions on what might prohibit us to serve. Then met with the judge and lawyers individually to tell our excuses.

I indicated that going to work full-time and school full-time made it pretty difficult to serve. Between classes and trying to compensate for the missed work, I did not have 10 days to devote to murder suspects. (Obviously, I made that sound nicer.)

The time came to dismiss the first group of people...and I was completely skipped over. They got rid of the guy who knew the defendant's father, the 400 lb woman, and the guy missing an ear (I loved that excuse), but the lowly grad student stayed.

Then the attorneys began the process of moving people in and out of the jury box. (There are fancy words for these processes, but I can't remember them because they all sound to me like French cheeses.)

I began counting and realized there were 28 people ahead of me. No problem; I'll be fine.

The process begins...2 out-2 more in....1 out-1 in...2 out and replaced...three more. Every now and then, the judge would skip someone. Holy shit. They were exiting quicker than Governor Spitzer at the Mayflower. Pretty soon, the numbers between me and the jury box were in single digits.

Then the woman next to me got called in the box. SHIT; I'm screwed. More lawyer talk and the clerk goes up to the judge and they excuse another juror.

"Juror 493 come to the jury box." I look down at my badge. That's not me. The lady on the other side of me gets up. And with that the jury selection is done and we are free to go.

Damn luckiest guy I know.

I hate jury duty...with a passion. Before you get all civic duty on me, let me first point out that I've been called 7 times since 1993. Yes, SEVEN. Welcome to living in Washington, DC. You get called to serve every two years on the dot.

I find it an utter waste of time. I am not peers with any of the people being tried. It's appalling to me that so many people need to waste a day for this.

But worse is this shit in their jury duty movie about civic responsibility and being part of our rights and responsibilities as an American. (Soapbox coming, bear with me.)

I live in DC and for those of you who don't know it, I have no representation in congress. There are no senators for DC. We have a Delegate to Congress who can only vote in committees; she cannot decide on legislation. To put it another way, she has the same rights as the representative from Puerto Rico.

Did I mention I pay full federal and local taxes unlike Puerto Rico which does not?

We also can't make decisions for ourselves. The DC government creates a budget, which Congress has the right to change. The District government is not allowed to impose an income tax on suburban commuters who work in the city. Congress–officials you elect for your states–decide on my gun laws, my school laws, my crime laws and what my money should be used for in my neighborhood.

Hell, we couldn't actually vote for president until 1961.

So yeah, I'm a little bitter that so many days are gone from my life for this privilege. They want to decide on my schools, by all means, decide on the criminals as well.

The one positive side is that this will be my last DC jury duty experience. Within two years, Larry & I will be moving out of DC. In my book, it's easier to move than it is to fight.

And DC will never get the right to vote. After all,
the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment is voted on by...you guessed it...Congress.

10 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

And here I was, thinking that I would probably love living in D.C.

I've been registered to vote in my town - and have been registering cars here - for near on 20 years. Not to mention that we've owned a home here since 1992. Never ONCE has either Mr. Chili or myself been called to jury duty. EVER. My mother-in-law? She gets called once a year, it seems, but we never do.

Watch: now that I've said that, my summons will come in tomorrow's mail....

8:19 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

I was called two or three times in NY, but never in Connecticut.

It's voir dire, btw.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

Dude, that's another one of the thousands of reasons not to live in DC. Can't wait for you to come join us down here in Dixie, where they're so much more enlightened. Oh wait a minute...

12:35 AM  
Blogger georgia said...

Don't worry...when you move to VA you'll most likely never get called for duty. Emil's dad has lived in Arlington for over 30 years and has not once been called!

9:11 AM  
Blogger Rich | Championable said...

Jesus, dude. Way to punch me in the nose with emphasis. Ouch.

;-)

2:47 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

I tend to forget to show up for jury duty. I'm a rebel like that.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Mamma said...

See that's when having a sibling who was a addict comes in handy.

And PS you're moving in two years? Will we meet before then???

11:35 PM  
Blogger creative-type dad said...

I actually enjoy jury duty. The weird people alone make it all seem like some freaky reality show.

2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Steve,

Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts on jury duty with me? I am writing an article for a final project at grad school and it's about jury duty in DC.
I would love the opportunity to talk with you within the next few days.
Please feel free to contact me at jihaneac@hotmail.com and I'd be more than happy to give you more details about the project.

Thank you in advance,
Best,
Jihane

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Steve,

Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts on jury duty with me? I am writing an article for a final project at grad school and it's about jury duty in DC.
I would love the opportunity to talk with you within the next few days.
Please feel free to contact me at jihaneac@hotmail.com and I'd be more than happy to give you more details about the project.

Thank you in advance,
Best,
Jihane

10:10 PM  

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