I have been called to Jury Duty three times. The first time, I was twenty-three. It was the summer that I was getting married. I was chosen to serve on Grand Jury. I had deliberately chosen not to work that summer so that I could get all the wedding plans finalized. I remember the judge so clearly asking me if there was any reason that I couldn’t serve and I told him that I was getting married on August 14th. He told me, “Good. You will be done on the 6th.” Grand Jury was different back then. I had to serve every day for six weeks. Full days. It was a good thing I didn’t have a “real job” because I don’t know what I would have done! I learned a lot while serving on it though and true to his words, I was done on the sixth and had the week before my wedding to finish up all the little details.
The second time I was called to serve, Drew was seven months old. I remember getting the summons in the mail and seeing the date 8/23. Drew was a tough baby. He didn’t sleep well at all and I was clearly sleep deprived. I asked my mom to watch the boys and figured I’d do my civic duty, serve my time and be done with it. I headed to the court house and found it remarkably empty. I went in and as I walked through the metal detectors and checked in the woman at the desk asked to see my summons. She looked at me and politely said, “Honey, it is July. The 8th month is August.” I nearly cried with embarrassment and told her that I had a baby at home and without needing to say another word, she stamped my summons “excused” and told me I didn’t even need to come back in August.
The third time, was fairly recently. It was in December. I tried to use the “teacher pass,”(which by the way doesn’t work,) and promised to serve in the summer but to no avail. I was asked all sorts of questions and was actually chosen as “Juror 13,” an alternate. I was told that the case could last up to two weeks. TWO WEEKS?? How could I leave my Kindergarteners for two weeks? We were given a break for lunch and I called my principal to tell her and then called Dave. I was crying because sub plans for one day are difficult enough. How was I going to plan for two weeks before the holiday break? I went back to the court room, sat in my chair and was asked to stand. I did, they said, “Juror 13, you are released.” I still have no idea what did it. Was it the tear stained face showing an unstable person? Did they not like some of my answers? Whatever it was, I nearly skipped out of the courtroom and out the door!
I am sharing these stories today because today in the mail, my mother received a summons to report to Jury Duty. My mom died nearly a year and a half ago. My brother Chip sent me a picture of the summons. We were all laughing about it. Even when she was alive, I don’t think my mom ever served. Back then “housewives” were often excused due to their stay at home status and then, when she was called a few years ago, she was already on oxygen 24 hours a day so she had a medical excuse. Chip joked, “Well at least she has a good excuse this time!”