Posted by: John McIntyre | April 24, 2015

Jury Duty

So, a few weeks ago, I got a letter to report for Jury Duty.

It seemed rather different than a regular jury duty letter, so I thought, “Oh, it’s going to be something big, like a Grand Jury for an indictment or a serious crime like murder.”  When they ask you to appear on a Friday at 9:00am instead of Monday at 8:00am, look out.

I was dreading it, but being a good American, I went.  I hoped I either would get picked quickly or get excused quickly, so I could move on with some sort of excitement.

Standing in line, in the rain, to get through security was rather annoying, but I understand. We don’t really want random weapons in a courtroom.  While standing there in line, a guy drove by, rolled down his window and asked “Are you guys waiting for jury duty?”  We all nodded grimly and he retorted, “Ouch, that’s harsh.”

So, once inside, the waiting room probably held over 300 people.  You could tell, no one wanted to be there.  People reading books, on their phones, laptops plugged in, trying to work, lots of moaning and groaning, just general un-happiness.  Not even the atmosphere of air travel passengers in an airport with all the “hurry and wait”  feeling of dread, but general happiness to be going somewhere of their choosing.

10:05-ish, the judge, after messing around with the microphone for 10 minutes, announces the situation.  “Yes, it’s a murder trial, sorry for all the fuss and commotion, but you should understand, after all, it’s a MURDER trial.  It should last about two weeks.  Antonio Wabol is on trial for a murder allegedly committed on January 18, 1980.”  At this point I wondered, where was I in 1980?

The judge continued, “he was a Portland State University student and apparently held up a Plaid Pantry near campus.  The clerk gave chase, was shot and died.”  At that point, I was catching up to the fact that  I was 17, a clueless senior at Crescent Valley High School when this all “allegedly” happened.

The judge then read through, oh, probably 200 names and said that hardship requests would have to be interviewed by him personally and approved.  About two-thirds of those in the room said that a two week trial would be a hardship to their job/life/family and requested to be excused.  The other one-third received a questionnaire  to fill out, that looked to be about eight pages long.  I was not called.

Next, the judge dismissed all the people requesting a hardship dismissal.  I can imagine your/my dismay.  However, the judge then dismissed everyone else.

What I learned from this was enlightening to me.  I heard all these names called.  The judge had a hard time pronouncing many of them.  Names from all over the world.  American, European, Asian, South American, African.

They were all there, doing their duty as American Citizens, reporting for jury duty, for a trial by your peers.  However you may feel about the current political situation, remember that this great country is founded on great principles, such as trial by jury.

But, I’m glad I didn’t get picked.  Mr. Wabol’s previous trial for this alleged crime resulted in a hung jury, very rare apparently.  I am glad I didn’t have to serve, but as a good American, I was there and I would have done it.

However, my wife notes that I wasn’t this patriotic in the weeks leading up to the “dreaded” event.


  1. Proud of you but glad you didn’t get picked!


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