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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Jury Duty

Jury Duty

I got lucky! I was assigned to jury duty today and tomorrow, but when I called the “jury hotline” last night, I was told not to come in today. Woo hoo! A totally free day — because of course I kept my calendar open, thinking for sure I’d have to go in.
I’ve only been called for jury duty once before – four or five years ago. I was told by someone knowledgeable to bring lots of stuff to keep busy, because there was no chance anyone would choose a school teacher for a jury. “Too opinionated,” this person said.
Er … That’s a compliment, right?
Well, this person (who shall remain nameless) was wrong. I was snapped up in the first ten minutes for a civil case in which a woman was suing her employer for wrongful dismissal and threats against her life. Yikes! Threats against her life!!! It was horrifying and exciting all at the same time.
In the opening statements, the woman’s lawyer told us that the employer had repeatedly threatened his client with a knife in his office and that he had even injured her severely by hurling a softball at her.
Turns out, the knife was a Swiss army knife he used to fiddle with while talking to people (flipping it open and closed while he talked – to everyone, not just her) and the “softball” was literally a SOFT ball, a stress ball made of foam which was routinely tossed around the office as a tension reliever. It supposedly bruised her upper arm. In short, the trial was a waste of everybody’s time and money. The City of West Chester even had to buy me a lunch, because the jury was sequestered (SEQUESTERED!!!) on the second day so that we could deliberate on the verdict.
I still have to call in tonight to see if I need to go in tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what Thursday has in store for me! A day full of sitting in uncomfortable chairs with unhappy strangers, trying to write on my laptop? Another riveting civil case? Or another lucky break?
Have YOU ever had an interesting jury duty?

6 Responses to Jury Duty

  1. Sarah says:

    I haven’t ever been called to jury duty! Dianne, honestly, you have some of the best stories. I take it the verdict in that civil case was “not guilty”, or whatever the civil equivalent of that is?

  2. Linda G. says:

    Wow. It’s amazing what some people will sue over.

    I’ve only been called up for jury duty once in the almost thirty years I’ve lived in the same county, and I didn’t make it past the voir dire. Guess the defense attorney didn’t like the way I was looking at the defendant. 😉

  3. My wife sat on a multiple-day trial several years ago, when we lived in rural Virginia. We still laugh over it: it was a case involving a stolen tractor and insurance fraud, and multiple individuals with the last name ‘Shifflett,’ the most common last name in the Greene County, Virginia phone book. The guy in front of her during the selection process was asked if he knew the defendant, Kenny Shifflett, and he replied “I know 3 Kenny Shifflett’s and he ain’t any of them.”

  4. I’ve been called to jury duty several times, and found the whole process very interesting. Well, the waiting for your name to be called while sitting with the crowd, not so much, but the stuff in the courtroom … I thought that was fascinating. Never got sequestered, though. What’s cool is, each time, the judge actually sent a note of thanks afterwards. I know I’m weird, but I LIKE jury duty.

  5. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! i didnt never get on a jury cause im not old enough. my brother alex got on one last year and it was a way rich couple suing a way rich interior decorator over some curtains. ha ha. he said it got so crazy even the judge got laughing on it. pain and suffering cause of a bad curtain. ha ha. he went all day for a whole week & he said the jury people got so tired of it being soooo dumb when it was time to decide they stayed til midnight on the last day so they didnt need to come back on monday and the judge was just real happy for that. i hope you dont get called in.
    …hugs from lenny

  6. mshatch says:

    I’ve gone twice but wasn’t ever called to serve.