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Started: 2004-04-22 19:23:37

Submitted: 2004-04-23 21:47:31.28936

Visibility: World-readable

The saga of my jury attendance in the United States District Court started here and continued here.

My alarm woke me up at 0600 Monday morning, once again dressed in my business suit, and drove to the Superior Park-and-Ride. After parking, I looked up to the bus ramp on the off-ramp and saw two buses. One I identified as route D, which I don't want, but I couldn't identify the other. I still had thirty seconds or so until my bus was supposed to come, but it was the route H bus I wanted to take, and it left before I made it to catch it. I sat at the bus stop for fifteen minutes waiting for the next bus to arrive and successfully managed to avoid the F bus (which went almost, but not entirely, where I wanted to be) and boarded the H route towards Denver. The bus was more crowded than the last bus I took, which meant I had to share a seat, so I couldn't have quite as much elbow room as I was used to. I read The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester (the guy who inspired the name for the Babylon 5 character), and got off a block from the courthouse.

(I'm departing Hacking Society, so I'll attempt to postpone this changelog and resume later.)

Jäger returns the following evening while Willy attempts to play The Simpsons: Hit and Run on my Gamecube. I've observed that he does the same thing I do while racing Principal Skinner to the elementary school: holding the controller in the direction he wants to go, in addition to nudging the control stick in the appropriate direction.

I entered the Alfred A. Arraj courthouse, passed through security, and entered the jury assembly room at 0745, fifteen minutes after I was supposed to show up. I found my juror card on the table, filled in my round-trip mileage, picked up a juror button, and sat in the jury pool waiting for something exciting to happen. The jury handlers were still orienting my fellow jurors, telling them everything that I would have heard two weeks ago had I managed to show up on time.

After the introduction, we waited for something exciting to happen. After a few minutes, the first pool of jurors was selected. I didn't expect to be picked for that jury, and I wasn't. The prospective jurors filed out of the room and the rest of us continued to wait for something exciting to happen. A real estate agent sitting across the table from me complained about being called and recognized me from the jury pool two weeks ago.

After another twenty or thirty minutes, the next pool of jurors were selected. I expected to be selected in that pool (for some reason that isn't entirely apparent to me), and I was. I joined the thirty or so other prospective jurors on the elevators up to the seventh floor to the courtroom occupied by a judge whose name escapes me at the moment. The case at hand was a civil case, so six jurors were required. After impressing us with the trust the United States' legal system places in jury verdicts and introducing everyone relevant in the courtroom, the judge instructed the courtroom clerk to pick fourteen jurors for the jury box. (I was not one of them; cursing me to sit in the gallery for the duration of the proceedings. The judge asked a bunch of questions querying if any of the prospective jurors knew anyone involved. After he finished the basic questions, he instructed his clerk to turn on his jury questions onto the flat panel LCDs mounted throughout the jury box and the courtroom. A massive plasma display was positioned so that we in the gallery could read the questions off it. (In the middle of the courtroom was a camera mounted above a table apparently configured to show whatever evidence was being presented to the jury, the prosecution and defense tables, and the gallery.) I was impressed to see that the court staff had typed the questions in WordPerfect 9.

After each juror introduced him or herself, the plaintiff (representing himself) got to ask questions of the projective jurors. After his alloted time, the defense queried various jurors. When they were done, each side got to dismiss three jurors, reducing the pool to six jurors, one alternate, and one rounding error. (I guess; it wasn't apparent to me how it was all supposed to work.) With the jury selected, the rest of us were released to the jury holding area. We took the elevators back down to the first floor to await further instructions. The jury handler drew names of juror pool members to retain. I wasn't on the small list, so I got to go home. It was about 1100.

I left the courthouse, undid my tie as I exited the building, and walked a kilometer to Market Street Station, where I caught the B bus back towards Boulder. I returned home, ate lunch, and contemplated my options. I decided I should return to work for a half day, just to prove that I still existed, and all that sort of stuff. (That, and so I only have a finite number of vacation days, which I need to spend on vacations as well as civic duty.)

Gem called me late in the day with news she was sure I wasn't going to like: the jury handlers called, cited unspecified extraordinary circumstances, and required my presence the following morning. I was not thrilled, to say the least.

Tuesday morning I at least had the opportunity to sleep in an extra few minutes; my presence wasn't required until 0800. I took the bus into Denver (and actually managed to catch the right bus) and showed up a few minutes before 0800. By 0900, I was still sitting in the jury handling room waiting for something exciting to happen, rather annoyed at my presence and wishing it would all go away. I called Gem, who was awake by that time, and talked to her for a while as I waited for something exciting to happen. After talking for half an hour, I decided to return to my text-based entertainment on the off chance that something worthwhile might happen. A few minutes later, the jury handler appeared and took us up to the ninth floor to the courtroom of another judge for another exciting criminal case. This time, after impressing us with the great faith the United States court system places in jury verdicts, the judge had the clerk pick what looked like thirty prospective jurors, leaving twenty (including myself) sitting in the gallery. I was quite familiar with the drill, having seen it twice already. I tried not to get too bored as all the questions were asked of the prospective jurors.

As noon approached, the jury still hadn't been selected, so the judge called a lunch recess from 1145 to 1315. I took the stairs down to the first floor and walked to the Tabor Center, where I grabbed lunch at Falafel King and called Gem for the coordinates of LoDo's Tattered Cover. (I've been in the Cherry Creek's Tattered Cover quite frequently, but never to LoDo.) I was fascinated by how similar LoDo's store was to Cherry Creek. I spent a few minutes wandering around the store, barely managing to avoid acquiring The Confusion, and returned to the courthouse in time for the 1315 end of recess. I hung out in the hall with the rest of the jury pool and "ready reserve" (as the judge called my group) well after the designated time waiting to be called. At last the bailiff called us into the courtroom, where we sat and waited for the prosecution and defense eyeballed the jurors and decided which ones to dismiss. Since this was a criminal trial, the prosecution got to dismiss six jurors and the defense got to dismiss ten. Out of thirty (I think) jurors in the prospective juror box, that left twelve jurors, one alternate, and one rounding error. (There might have been twenty-nine prospective jurors in the box instead, which would take out the rounding error.) The sixteen dismissed jurors and the "ready reserve" jurors were dismissed. It was 1350.

I walked to Market Street Station and caught the B bus back towards Boulder. I got home at 1500 and decided it didn't make much sense to head into work for two hours (especially since we're discouraged from taking PTO in increments less than a half day), so I hung out at home, played my latest Gamecube title, The Simpsons: Hit & Run, and generally amused myself. It was the first time I've been paid for sitting at home doing nothing, which was fascinating.

I called the jury recording this afternoon after 1400 and was elated to not hear my name on the list of jurors instructed to show up Monday morning. (The list was much shorter than the last three weeks, which might suggest they have fewer trials to fill.) My term of service is officially completed; my civic duty has been fulfilled.

it's amazing how much nothing you can do on a sunday.
- bse, Tue Feb 29 16:50:45 GMT 2000