November 18th, 2008

QuillWe

Oy, the Jury! – Chapter 3

I spent the day in federal court again. I wasn’t chosen to be on the jury (again), and though this was another juicy case, I’m really glad I wasn’t chosen. Y’see, this trial is going to take a couple weeks, including the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and I’m scheduled to be on a train to Michigan that day. I would have had to switch to traveling on the dreaded Day Before Thanksgiving, a.k.a. The Most Heinous Travel Day Of The Year. So even though it would have been nice to actually be part of a jury, I’m quite happy to see this opportunity go by.

There were 45 of us who went to the courtroom and went through voir dire for this case, which is apparently an unusually high number of prospective jurors. I got to hear personal details about a whole bunch of people. I have a short list of observations on those proceedings.

— One of the standard questions compelled us to state our marital status. Two people phrased it this way: “I am currently married.” Does this phrasing make anyone else uneasy about the state of their marriage, or is it just me?
— All of us were asked to state our favorite newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV shows. One guy proudly stated that his favorite TV show is “Two and a Half Men.” Your favorite show, dude??? I mean, if it’s one of the shows you watch every week, that’s fine. But your favorite show? If it’s me on trial, this man cannot be a part of any jury of my peers.
— We were told that the defendant is a former Chicago police officer. One of the prospective jurors felt compelled to tell the judge that, “I really don’t dig cops at all. Never have.” Gee, do you think this guy’s trying to get out of jury duty, or what?

One other interesting note – I spent today across the street from Barack Obama. It seems that his Transition Headquarters is located in the Federal Building directly across South Dearborn Street from the Federal Courthouse. The judge advised us that Obama was there today and that we should be prepared for heightened security in the area. No sightings, but still a singular feeling to be that physically near someone so very far up the food chain.
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