Cold, dark, windy, misty morning waiting at the bus stop at 7 am. Today I had to be at the Bexar (pronounced bear) County Justice Center by 8 am to report for Jury Duty.
The bus took about 20 minutes to deliver me downtown from our RV park. From there, I walked four blocks to the Justice Center and arrived ten minutes early, used the restroom, checked in to the Central Jury Room, was handed instructions about Jury Duty and shown to my seat. If I had to guess, I'd say the Central Jury Room holds about 400 people and, by the time everyone checked in, almost every seat was filled.
We must have waited an hour before the Judge appeared and explained to us about trial by a jury of our peers. She thanked us for coming in. Expectations for the day were laid out. She told us the difference between serving on a criminal court or a civil court. Criminal cases have a larger jury and the trials usually are longer in duration. We will be paid $6 for today. If we are chosen to sit on a jury, we will receive $40 per day after today.
A number of courts needed to choose jurors today and we were required to stay within paging range of the Central Jury Room. Anyone who needed to smoke, had to sign out and go to a certain place outside the front of the building. There was no paging outside, so they would need to be notified by a bailiff going out to get them.
There were two TV rooms for our use (all in a room had to agree on a channel) and free book downloads available for tablets or Smart Phones. We were excused for breaks and lunch. The cafeteria across the hall from the Central Jury Room served lunch as well as a number of restaurants and delis nearby.
Our first break was 9:30 a.m. and lasted about 20 minutes. We were paged back to the Central Jury Room. Names were called for jury panels for two courtrooms. For one courtroom, they called 50 names, and another courtroom called 45. Jury panels are the people who sit on a panel in front of the attorneys, answer questions, and from whom the attorneys choose the jury -- usually about 12 people for more complex cases, and 6 people for civil matters.
Lunch was 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. I ate in the cafeteria. During the waiting times I had Entertainment Weekly magazines to read (I finished four of them) and read articles Mom mails to us from the Oregonian newspaper. We love reading about the Trailblazers, University of Oregon Ducks, and local news from our home of over 30 years.
After lunch, names for two more panels were called. We were told a number of cases had been settled prior to going to trial and they weren't going to need as many people as they originally thought. I thought I wasn't going to go to a jury panel.
At 2:30 p.m., we were all called back to the Central Jury Room. Names for two more sets of jury panels were called. My name was called. Our jury panel consisted of 32 people for six seats on the jury.
Once in the courtroom, the judge explained the case (assault of a handicapped person in a parking garage), how long the trial would last (one day), and how many jurors were needed (six). She thanked us for our service. From then on we were questioned by the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense. The guy who was sitting next to me in the courtroom was sniffling, sneezing, and coughing the whole time we were there. Arrrgh, I hope I don't get sick! After spending 2-1/2 hours in the courtroom (with two 15 minute breaks), the six jurors were finally chosen. I did not get called. We left for the day at 5:05 pm. I walked three blocks to the bus and caught one in under five minutes. I was back to the RV park by 5:30 pm.
The process was interesting and different from the last four times I was called to jury duty. I had to go in for jury duty a couple of times in Oregon, but all cases were settled before they went to court and we left the courthouse by 10 am or noon. One time in Oregon and one time in Washington state, the cases were settled the day before. In those instances, I was called the day before and told I didn't need to go to the courthouse and that my jury duty was completed until the next time I was eligible to be called.
Bob called on his way home from work and asked if I wanted pizza for dinner while we watched the Spurs on TV. Yes, that sounded wonderful. I ordered Papa John's Pizza online and Bob stopped on the way to pick it up. Nice, hot pizza and a Spurs game: What a great end to the dreary day.
Travel Bug out.