Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Retirement, A Call to Duty

Finished planting and doing OK

Law and Order

About a month ago I got that letter in the mail - Summons to Appear for Jury Duty.  This was not for County Court, but rather Federal Court, which is another whole can of worms.  County Court often involves money cases and local criminal trials and many are pleaded or settled out of court.  Federal could involve terrorism, the mob, and high profile people/events.

Who is your JudgeAbout 10 years ago I was called as a potential jurist for Federal Grand Jury which was looking into the Pennsylvania mafia and especially it's main man (who will be nameless for this blog). They brought in about 40 people and from them they choose about 15 or 16 people.  This was an 18 month commitment for one day a week.  The only excuses they would accept were:  You were dying, someone you are taking care of is dying or you are moving out of state.  When I heard what this Grand Jury was investigating, my first thought was "move" but not to New Jersey  (Soprano territory). Most people had some trepidation about the mob, but the judge assured us that the Mafia respects the court system and there should be no worries about finding a horse's head in our beds. We didn't necessarily take his word on this.  After that, we were seated and a computer randomly picked the lucky people by there seat number. Fortune was on my side and I was not called. A woman who was chosen and who I later met outside told me that she watched me from the jury box and saw a look on my face that screamed "heart attack".  To say I was relieved when they said they had enough jurors and everyone else could go home would not be an exaggeration.

Fast forward to 2008 and again  I receive another letter from Uncle Sam but this time is was just for one trial.  I combed the paper to see what may be coming up and again, another high-profile event was happening.  A housewife, given the name Jihad Jane by the press for recruiting terrorists on the Internet, was to be tried around the time my court date.  I sweated that out for a few weeks and then per instructions, I called the court phone number the night before having to appear and was told that the jury was filled and I need not come to court.  I could finally breathe out again.  

Now I am to appear on Tuesday and there is that chance that again my number will not come up.  However, for trials the numbers are sequential and mine is low so I do expect that my luck has run out.  I have not looked in the paper to see if any big Federal  cases are due this week as I don't want to get my anxiety clock going again.  So I will do my duty and perhaps have a fascinating week where I will meet new people, use my sensibilities and be a good citizen.



  1. Or maybe you'll get lucky again....I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. I've never been called for jury duty and frankly, I hope I never do.

  2. Hello:
    We can well understand your anxiety and, after two lucky 'escapes', you will, in all probability, be called for next Tuesday. But, equally, apart from the inconvenience of it all, try to view it as another of life's experiences from which, we are sure, you too will gain something of value which might not, in the first instance, be immediately apparent. Good luck!

  3. Starting Over - I have only ever done Jury service once and that was at Crown Court. It was sooo tiring as you have to concentrate on every little bit of evidence! One funny part was when a perspiring policeman had to read out a statement given by one of the defendants. What an eye opener - I'd never even heard some of the swear words used before :) It ain't what you say - it's the way that you say it!! Anyway if you do get picked - the experience is worth it - honest :0)

  4. I've never served in a Federal court, but have served on jury duty multiple times before. Maybe I'm weird, but I thought it was a fascinating experience, and thoroughly enjoyed it. (Of course, there was never any concern about finding a horse head in my bed, either ...)

    You are so funny. I wanted to select you on my blog today for those two awards, but I realized I don't know your first name. Seemed weird to call you "starting over". BUT, if you're interested in doing the challenge mentioned on my blog, please grab the awards (you deserve them!)and have at it. I just know you have some delicious secrets to tell.

  5. Susan, My name is Arleen. Thank you for thinking of me for the awards but if I have to go court tomorrow, there is the possibility that I will be chosen for a trial. Who knows how long it could last. I don't know if I would have time to do the blog. I will see how tomorrow goes.

    To Jane and Lance, Molly and, again, Susan, I also think being on a jury would add some spice to my life, lord knows I need it. More though than being selected, I am worried about getting there, as the courthouse is in Philadelphia, about an hour from my home. I used to work there before I was married and now we sometimes go into the city for special occassions, but hubby navigates. Many years ago I knew the city well, but that was a long time ago. The last time I went to court, I did get lost and was almost late, and I am worried (because that is what I do best) it will happen again. I am going to take a 7 AM train into the city, but many times there are delays. You can see I have a whole horrible scenerio mapped out for me already and am getting myself into a heap of nerves. I think maybe I should have a few glasses of fine, fine wine tonight to calm my anxiety tonight That should help, however, it might impede me from waking up on time.

  6. Go for the wine...this advice from your loving sister-in-law....Hope your B-Day was great!!!!!!
    Are we on for Labor Day Weekend....I never HEAR from you...I have a Jury Duty story not to be repeated on a BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Some people seemed thrilled by possible jury duty, but I'm like you, I hate the whole thing. I've had to go to jury selection twice, and twice lucked out. It sounds like you don't want to be selected, so I hope you don't!

  8. I have been able to be exempt from jury duty on health reasons, fortunately, altho I believe it might be interesting. How do you seem to manage to be up for crazy scary jury duty??
    Try saying "Hang 'em high!" if you are being considered again. Love the post!