05:42:46 am on
Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Jury Duty
Matt Seinberg

Every municipality and government feels it is the duty of every citizen to serve on a jury every six-to-eight 8 years. Sometimes, it’s avoidable; most times, not. A few months back, I received a questionnaire from the Federal Court in Brooklyn, NY. I returned a note from my physician and a copy of my first call to jury duty. I hoped those two things would get me out of that service.

I thought I was jury duty free.

Then, Nassau County called me twice, last year, for jury duty. I managed two postponements. I thought the second would be longer than three months, but the County called, again, last November.

Now, I was on telephone stand-by, which is a lottery of a sort. I had a good chance of avoiding jury duty because I had a high number. I made it through the week without having to go to the county courthouse. I thought I was safe for another six years.

Was I wrong! A month ago, I got another call to jury duty, with a rather low number. I called the courthouse and finally got to talk to Bob, the Commissioner of Jurors. He told me to find him after orientation and he would see what he could do.

I totally forgot of jury duty it until this past Wednesday, when I called the juror telephone stand by hotline. I wasn't on the scheduled for that day. My number was sure to be up on Thursday, though.

On Wednesday night, my phone range, my number was up. I texted the opening manager, at work, to tell her what was going on. I got to the courthouse at 8:45 am on Thursday morning and waited on line to get through the metal detectors.

Then we had to go through a very boring orientation. After that, anyone with a reasonable excuse could line up to talk to a clerk. They wouldn't let me talk to the commissioner, so I was stuck. I had a book and my phone. I settled in for a long day.

It was a four-week trial.

Finally, at noon, they ushered me and forty other women and men into a courtroom. Again, we lined up; we could talk to the judge if we couldn't serve. This trial was going to be four weeks and there was no way I could be out of work that long.

The judge finally called me up. I explained to him and the two attorneys that I was a commission salesperson and there was no way I could be out of work that long. If I don't work, I don't make money. Moreover, with my wife on disability, right now, and not getting her salary, things were tough.

The judge dismissed me. I went back downstairs, as told. I returned my ticket.

Luckily, I saw Bob, the commissioner. I gave him my ticket and reminded him of our phone call. He looked a little harried. He told me to go into Room 4 and wait.

A woman was in there by herself. We started to chat, wondering why we were there. After five minutes, Bob comes in and hands us our release, thanks us for our service and we're free for six years.

Guess what, now that I served for those three hours, I don't have to serve on any jury for six years. Federal Court can go suck it!

Jury duty should go first to the unemployed, then the retired.

I believe that people working full time should not be the first called for jury duty. Who should be called you ask? What about calling people collecting unemployment or retired people? There are so many of them, that we full time workers wouldn't have to serve.

Retired people love to serve on jury duty. It gets them out of the house, gives them $40 a day and gives them a purpose to get up in the morning.

By the time the state of New York tries to call me again, in six years, I'll be semi-retired, working part time and living in Florida. I truly have something to look forward to, then.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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