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Jury Duty

I have jury duty this week. I am not looking forward to it. But I have to ask myself why I am not looking forward to doing my civic duty. What if it was me on trial for something or if it was someone I loved? Or if someone harmed one of my loved ones and they were on trial? Wouldn’t I want a fair and balanced jury?

Of course I would and that is exactly why I have never tried to get out of jury duty.

So why am I dreading it this time around? And how many times can one person be called to jury duty?

Two separate questions. The answer to the second question is “I don’t know, but this is the fourth time for me and my husband has only been summoned once. And he’s a Native Oregonian.”

Yes, I have been summoned three times before and I have always shown up. The first time was in Baker City, OR, and was for jury selection for one particular trial case. They selected the jury long before they got to my name and I went home. The second time was for a one week duration and I had to show up at the court house every morning. And every morning I was sent back home by ten o’clock, except once. And again, they selected the jury long before they got to my name and I went home. The third time was for a period over six weeks. I had to call in every night after 5PM to see if my juror number came up. It finally did on a Tuesday of the very last week.

I went outside that morning and discovered I had a flat tire! I had to call the county clerk and explain that I had a flat tire, lived ten miles out of town and had no idea how soon I could have it fixed. She dismissed me from jury duty for the rest of the week (which was the last week – go figure)!

Don was summoned two years ago and opted out because it was not a good time. They summoned him again last winter and he called in every day, faithfully, for a week. Again, he didn’t get picked for a jury and it was all over.

All of the times I was called in the past, I was unemployed and that $10 check plus mileage was added money to my pocket.

Now I am employed. My employer has a good policy for jury duty, so that’s not the problem. But if they were not supportive (some companies do not pay your wages when you have to serve), that ten bucks a day is pretty measly compared to lost wages.But I’m not worried about the money.

The problem is that we are working with a skeleton crew and it is the end of the month. We are always busier at the end of the month and the first of the month. And if I do get selected for a jury, that dumps my entire work load onto the other person in my department and she has her own backlog of work. And if I get picked for Grand Jury, the term is for a month. I’d have to cancel all my doctor appts due to the uncertainty of when I might have to go in.

It’s the logistics of it that bother me. Why now? Of course, now is better than in the summer when there are planned vacations and a heavier work load.

I suppose there is no good time. There is no good reimbursement financially.

I know people who weigh all of those conflicts and then weasel out of jury duty. They take pride in the fact that they have never served. Several of them have come to me to give me advice on how to get out of it.

But I don’t think getting out of it is fair. Innocent lives are at stake: either the victim’s or the accused. I don’t think I could stand to have it on my conscience if I finagled my way out of jury duty and someone was given the wrong verdict. The point is: I could be the one to tip the scale of Justice in the right direction.

So despite my apprehension and the inconvenience, I will do my civic duty.

But I really want to know why I keep getting summoned when other people never get summoned? I served three times before Don was ever summoned to serve. Now I’m up to four times. That doesn’t seem like a very balanced system.

(Hawthorne leaves. Photo 179/365)

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