JUROR SUMMONS

Tag, I’m it.

The last time I was called up for Jury Duty was for the week between Christmas and New Years two years ago. That’s probably the one week out of fifty-two that has the lowest likelihood of a Court starting a case. This time I’m on-call in early December.

The jury selection process, at least in Santa Clara County, California, is monumentally boring unless you’ve brought a good book. You sit in a holding room for some number of hours until your block gets called in to court, where you sit for another hour while smaller groups of people get interviewed to screen out relatives of the judge, the defendant, spouses of police officers, hardship cases, anyone carrying a “Jury Nullication” book, etc. The prosecution and defence lawyers then have a set number of “peremtory challenges“, which let them excuse a prospective juror without having to give a reason. (In Santa Clara County, the joke is that they’ll reject anyone who thinks for a living.) Eventually, both sides run out of challenges, and the first Jury’s worth of people left, plus two for alternates, are it.

Having to hang around the court for a day does have some unexpected benefits. If you hit the right day, one of the Bail Bond companies, being demographically astute advertisers, might be giving out free t-shirts. I missed my chance at one a few years back, and hey, Christmas is coming up.