Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jury Duty

I got a summons for Jury Duty. I seem to be on the short list. The card I got in the mail said I could call the evening before my service at which time I would find out if I needed to go to the courthouse or not. A recording announced that any jurors with a number 2 to 364 would have to report to the courthouse. Darn it! The number on my summons was 55. I would had to go in at 8AM the next day.

I don't get up before sunrise very often to the drive downtown was an adventure. The summons said I could park in the courthouse parking garage but instead I parked in my super supremo suburban side street spot.  The long walk to the courthouse finally got my body awake. There was a Channel 9 News truck in front of the courthouse with it's satellite dish raised. "Great." I thought. "With my luck I'll end up on some controversial case that goes on for months." I was thankful that there was no line into the courthouse, but there was the usual eternal switchbacks to get people through metal detectors and x-ray machines. "Put your cellphones, belts and wallet into a tray when you get to the front of the line!" a security guard shouted. He repeated himself every few minutes. This is what it must be like waiting to get into hell. I didn't set off a metal detector but a guard didn't like the look of some fingernail clippers I had on my key chain. Apparently the nail file was an imposing weapon. He bent the file back and forth until it broke off. If you see me around town with dirty fingernails, don't judge me. It is a sacrifice I made to fulfill my civic duty. Thankfully my pencil sharpener went undetected.

Suite 108 held the jurors until judges called for them. We were asked to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance and then raised our right hand to be sworn in. Swearing in basically boils down to, "Don't lie to get off a jury." Then we had to watch a video that explained the Voir Dire process, or lawyers finding the right jurors. It was stressed that we couldn't eat, drink or read in the courtroom. "Sweet!" I thought. "They didn't say I couldn't sketch." There was to be no Tweeting, Facebooking or Blogging. "Hey, wait a minute, I blog about everything!" Mainly the judge didn't want us to disclose our thoughts about the case.

Then we waited, and waited. A batch of 16 jurors were called and sent to a courtroom. Then 16 more names were called. Thankfully, I dodged the bullets so I could get the sketch finished. At 11:30AM we were given a break for lunch. I got a couple of slices of pizza and walked around Lake Eola. The second time going through security, I forgot to put my keys in the basket. I was patted down and just about strip searched. When I got back to the Jury holding pen, we were all told we could leave. Our service was complete. The only lawyers I saw that day were young paralegals right out of college at the table next to mine at the pizza joint.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


polusladkaia said...

Hi Thomas,
I met you a few years ago in Seattle when you visited Gas Works Park with our local Urban Sketchers contingent. As a court reporter in real life, I appreciate your fulfilling this odd civic duty, and even more sketching and blogging about it! Great sketch and commentary.
You are right, the judge doesn't want you to share your thoughts with the world till the case is over -- just like in the movies. Sorry about your clippers! Artists generally have paint under our nails anyway.
Beth (polusladkaia) Betker

Thor said...

Ha! Thanks Beth. Glad for your insight from in the trenches. The Seattle Urban Skethers are an impressive group.