My Day at Jury Duty

If it's Monday, it must be time for Jury Duty. In Seminole County, they select all of the jurors on Monday. You may come and sit here for a day without ever getting selected. If selected, you may have a trial today, or later on sometime in the week. I think it'll suck if I get selected for a different day, but I have no problem if I get on a trial today. My assignment is in the Criminal Justice building, so it's a safe bet that I won't be hearing any lawsuits today. At least they have free WiFi in this building.

I got here around 7:45 am, which wasn't as early as I would've liked. The first thing I noticed was the line going out the door. It takes time for the security check. It's just like the airport. Put your keys and coins in the plastic bucket, your bags go through the scanner, and if you're lucky, you don't have to take off your shoes.

Remember, this is a government operation. As soon as you get out of that line, the next thing you do is get into another, longer line. You don't know why you're there, but that's the direction you're supposed to go.

While I'm waiting in line, I look around at the other prospective jurors waiting with me. If you're arrested and tried for a crime in Seminole County, it looks like a jury of your peers is predominantly white. I count only a handful of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or other ethnicities. Most of the folks are average looking citizens, but I'm most impressed with the attractive woman behind me displaying ample cleavage. It's an interesting choice for jury duty.

At the head of the line is a row of four clerks behind a desk. They perform a simple proofing operation by checking your juror notice with your driver's license. Once they verify you are who you're supposed to be and your address matches, you get to pick a spot in the jury room.

It's been a while since I served as a juror. The last time I did was in Orange County when they still used the old courthouse. Even with the asbestos, that facility was far more comfortable than this one. The Seminole County jury room is a fairly large room with lines of chairs all facing forward. You'd think we were waiting for a high school musical.

If you get here soon enough, there are some tables along the walls for people with laptops. At least, that's why I think they're here. The tables are next to power outlets and some data ports. Naturally, a few people without laptops are sitting there with newspapers spread out and coffee cups in hand. I'm lucky enough to snag a table by the front of the room.

The free WiFi in the jury room is highly overrated. Sure, you get a very strong signal. That's misleading, though. The network path getting out to the Internet is excruciatingly sluggish. I don't know if they're sharing this path with others in the building, but it's almost pointless. Trying to load the Orlando Sentinel web page takes minutes. If that weren't bad enough, several of my favorite sites are blocked. I can't get to Flickr or NikonCafe. I guess this is part of the government's belief that photographers are all terrorists.

What is it with jury duty and coughing? If you get a collection of people in a government building, there's always someone who starts coughing uncontrollably. When one person stops, another one starts up moments later. I'll be lucky to escape without some new plague attacking my system.

There are four state of the art TV's hanging from the ceiling. Of course, they were state of the art about a decade or two ago. It looks like a collection of Yugo's hanging from up there. One is right over my head and it reminds me of driving behind a car-carrier trailer. You just know that one of those things is going to pop loose and come right at you.

These TV's are here for a purpose. There's a video that supposedly tells you how to be a juror. What it really does is try to give a little pep rally on what a wonderful place America is to allow you to participate in the privilege of jury duty. While part of me agrees, I have to say that the video is unconvincing and insulting. We know why we're here. I don't mind the change of pace.

If you prepare for spending a day here, it's not so bad. I have my laptop loaded with five movies. My iPod is with me. There's a break room with a selection of unhealthy snacks and plenty of soda. The restrooms are close. The woman with ample cleavage is walking around. She looks good from the other side, too.

We'll have to see how the day goes from here.

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