I’ve always wanted jury duty, but have never had the priviledge of being summoned. A few weeks ago, I finally received a notice, and I’ve been giddy ever since… Joelle said she heard me "smiling ear to ear" when I called to tell her I got the notice.
Wednesday was my official date of starting. The way it works in King County (where Seattle is) is the following:
- You show up at the courthouse at 8 AM. Pretty easy to do; the buses from eastlake take about 12 minutes, and drop you off a block away. The county even provides you with a free bus pass (which I decided to use even though I have a free bus pass through Pure Networks; since they had already printed out the pass, I thought I would show my support for transit by letting the beancounters know that the jury bus passes are used). I did defer on receiving additional bus passes for future days, though, in hopes of saving the pieces of paper.
- You wait in line for a while to sign-in and get paperwork taken care of. Part of this is payroll information, since you get paid $10 a day for being here (thankfully, work covers the rest – for self-employed individuals, jury duty could be a killer).
- A nice orientation video is then shown; while the video covers all of Washington State, it definately had some Snohomish County specific pieces (where it was filmed). I find that weird, since King County is such a larger system; in fact, it’s the 14th busiest court system in the US (or so I was told).
- One of the judges comes by to welcome you and give you King County specific information, and the jury manager provides other info: where the bathrooms are, break times, coffee locations, etc… and warns you to wear your juror badge at all times and not talk to anyone (judges, lawyers, witnesses, etc…). It is a pretty nice room; lots of bathrooms, a kitchen, free wi-fi access (I didn’t know this, so didn’t bring my laptop – today, on day 2, I did). Most people were reading, but some small amount of conversation occurred as well.
- They then start calling names of people to go to jury rooms; I was in the 3rd group called, at about 10:15 or so. I was #29, which means that 16 people (the jury was going to be 12 people + 1 alternate) would have had to be excused before I made it into the "jury box" – while that sounds like a lot, it often happens; that’s why they called 44 of us in.
- We then meet the bailiff, who explains things, and the judge explains more.
- The lawyers then do "voir dire" where they ask general and specific questions of the jury pool to find out more, 20 minutes at a time. It appeared that they got the transcript to review over lunch, since neither were taking notes from what I could tell.
- Lunch time – more on that separately.
- We then came back after an hour and half lunch, and they did more questioning, and then began excusing people. This part of excusing could either be "for cause" or "presumptively". In our case, everyone (except 1) was "presumptively". They got to #28, so I wasn’t needed… boo!
- Everyone excused from that trial then went back to the general jury room, where they told us were done for the day, but to be back at 8:45 AM the next day. Each person is here for at least 2 days, and more if they make it onto a trial.
Very interesting process so far; being part of the voir dire was fascinating. I wrote most of this while waiting to be called for day 2; now that that’s over, it ended the same way; I was 3 from being needed for the case this time. Thus endeth my jury duty adventure; you only go for the 2 days. Next time, I better get on a trial!