Three Secrets of a Successful Juror
SECRET #1 - How to stay alert during endless hours of tedious testimony.
Darn those T.V. shows! They make it seem as if jury life will be a LOT more interesting than it actually is. That first day, there were times I literally could have nodded off. I couldn’t drink gallons of tea or coffee because when jurors have to use the bathroom, the entire court has to wait for them. Talk about motivation NOT to drink anything! This situation called for drastic measures.
I’ve never been an advocate of energy drinks, but in desperation I bought some 2-oz. bottles of 5-hour Energy. Let me just say…
I was fully alert the entire next day! Even when we were forced to watch a mind-numbing two-hour movie of a suspect being interrogated, featuring thrilling footage of a lone table and chair, when the interrogators left the room and the bored suspect wandered out of view. Sure, maybe I was a little hyper at times. But at least I didn’t fall asleep during crucial testimony or anything.
SECRET #2 - How to balance your life while on jury duty.
Serving on a jury can be gratifying, but it also throws your entire life out of whack! After a couple of stressful days I figured out this helpful secret. Use jury duty as an excuse to get out of as much stuff as possible, and put your family to work!
Me: Hey guys, I’m just leaving court. What’s for dinner?
Son & Hubs: Uh…
Me: It’ll take me an hour to get home and I’m exhausted from jury duty. Whatever you decide to feed us will be fine. Gotta run!
Me: Have you guys finished folding the laundry yet?
Son & Hubs: Uh…
Me: Finish soon, please! I need my dress shirt for court tomorrow. I’d help, but I’m exhausted from jury duty.
Me: Did you finish cleaning the house, Josh?
Me: Gee, I had a long day in court. If you still want friends over, you’ll need to clean the bathroom, vacuum, sweep and bake some cookies. Allrighty? Thanks!
SECRET #3 - How to bond with your fellow jurors.
On our first day of jury duty, all 14 of us were crammed around one table in a tiny jury room, where we waited for well over an hour. Some people read books or magazines. Nobody spoke. Mostly, we sat together in this incredibly awkward silence.
The next morning at 8:30 a.m., it was even worse. The coffeemaker wasn’t working and everyone seemed barely awake, sipping from water bottles, staring into space and trying not to look at each other.
Suddenly, I had a brainstorm. Clearing my throat, I said brightly, “Do you guys wanna play a game?”
Thirteen pairs of uncaffeinated eyes swiveled in my direction. Nobody responded.
Undeterred I pressed on. “My son’s drama class played this game where everybody said their name and however many syllables their name was, they shared something about themselves that contained the same number of syllables.”
Silence. Then a slow rumble spread across the room.
“I can’t think that much this early in the morning!”
Unwilling to give up I said, “Well how about a simple name game then?”
Sounds of grudging acquiescence filled the room.
“I’ll start. I’m Holly!”
“I’m Valerie, she’s Holly.”
“I’m Matt, she’s Valerie, she’s Holly.”
And so we proceeded around the room.
For some reason, when I shared this story with my girlfriends, they laughed so hard there were tears coming out of their eyes. But seriously, it worked! From that moment on our jury was totally bonded. Conversations flowed. We learned about each others’ jobs, family lives, six degrees of separation, travel plans, pets and more!
“I’ll bring in bagels and cream cheese for everybody tomorrow!” Juror Laura called out.
“Great! I’ll bring in my homemade cinnamon rolls the day after that,” said Juror Kristin.
Our case had two juries, because there were two defendants. Whenever the judge and attorneys left the room for private conferences, our jury would whisper together amiably. The other jury sat staring straight ahead, stifling yawns.
My new friend, Juror Valerie commented on how great our jury got along compared with the other jury, and smiling at me said, “I think it was because of the Name Game!”
Image by: Mom the Barbarian