I have been a registered voter pretty much continuously for the last thirty years. And somehow I have never been summoned for jury duty. Until today.
A few weeks ago I got a notice to appear at the Tarrant County courthouse on this day. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. as instructed, and found myself in a room with about 150 other prospective jurors. I had heard from others who have been summoned recently that the odds are against even been called out to be a jury prospect pool.
So after some initial instructions they began calling out numbers and names for the first jury pool. Number 1, Jane Doe. . .Number 2, Joe Blogs. . . Number 3, David Holland. . .
Okay then. I was in a jury pool. Me and about 14 of my closest new friends clipped on our “Juror” name tags and headed up to the sixth floor in search county courtroom 15. There we were handed surveys to fill out. The early questions were about profession and level of education. But a little farther down we got questions like:
- Has someone close to you ever been the subject of a restraining order or protection order?
- Has someone close to you ever been a victim of spousal abuse?
- If something is crime when done to a stranger, is it always a crime when done to a spouse?
- Should someone be prosecuted for a crime against a spouse even when that spouse does not want that person to be prosectued?
After a few of those, I was ready to take a wild guess as to what kind of case we might be hearing. But would I be selected or rejected? I was praying for rejection given the fact that I couldn’t really spare the hours I was already losing.
As it turned out, the judge had 10 cases on her docket today, and every single one of them ended up in a plea bargain or with the charges dropped. As we were dismissed, she explained to us that knowing that a prospective jury is waiting out in the hall tends to concentrate the minds of the attorneys in ways that gets deals done.
So I didn’t get pulled into a multi-day trial and my work life was saved.