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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jack's Jury Duty

My friend Jack got called for jury duty yesterday. For him, it's a short bus ride downtown and parking is expensive, so he took the bus. The bus is loaded with high school students on their way to school wearing their Halloween costumes. He gets to the Multnomah County courthouse where he sits and waits in a large room with 200 other people. The City of Portland, the most populous city in Oregon, is in Multnomah County, so this is the big deal in courthouses as far as Oregon goes.  At least the chairs are comfortable. Seems someone has set up a deal where you can donate your jury pay (which is some miserable amount like $10 a day) to buy better furnishings for the waiting room, like tables and chairs and TV's.

First off they need 20 or so people for a Grand Jury, which means you will be "serving" for 30 days. (Please Lord, don't pick me.) Then they pick off groups of 20 so for all the various trials going on.  Jack gets sent to a courtroom where a partially crippled woman is suing two drivers and one passenger for pain and suffering incurred from two parking lot bump-into-another-car accidents. The plaintiff's lawyer has quit.

Everybody's in the courtroom, then all the involved parties go to another room and (it's secret, we don't know what they were doing in there). They come back and it looks like it's going to trial, so now we need to select a jury. They question the jurors as a group, and some individually. In the end they excuse all but 13, 12 for the jury and one alternate, and Jack is excused.

So Jack goes back to the waiting room and waits some more. They call another 20 or so people to hang around for the rest of the day, just in case something comes up,  and the rest, including Jack, are free to leave. Another civic obligation fulfilled.

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