Most people I know hate jury duty.  They do everything they can to get out of it.  But let me tell you:  I love jury duty.

I’ve received notice three times and have been on three juries.   Why?  Well, you get out of work, so that’s a huge bonus.  Plus, I find experiencing the judicial system first-hand entertaining.  Boring, but entertaining (believe me, TV shows cut out 95% of the dull bits).

The last jury I served on was about 3 years ago, at Daley Center in Chicago.  The plaintiff was a young man who was working on the state highway crew on I-90.  A huge scissor-like crane thing (I believe that was the technical term) got out of control, and a wheel ran up the back of his ankle/lower leg.  He’d suffered muscular damage and wore a brace, and couldn’t do construction-type work anymore.  He was suing both the crane manufacturer and the company that rented the vehicle.

We, the jury, sat through seven days of arguments.  I saw the lawyers’ strategies pretty easily.  I also saw by the end of the first day that the prosecution had a very weak case, and they better get their shit together.

The prosecutor was in his early thirties or so and giving it his best, but fucked up a few times and the judge had to zing him with snappy one-liners.  He was getting frustrated.  The defense for both defendants was much more solid.  And they added a nice touch by bringing in a hot young brunette rookie type to kinda “learn the ropes” once they knew they had it in the bag.  (EVERYBODY loves eye candy.)

Then there’s the pagentry: the crying wife seems nice…that guy seems like an idiot…that guy’s a geek and needs to get laid…the plaintiff must’ve picked his stupidest friends as character witnesses…if I see one more picture of a dirty crane control panel I will puke…and why are we watching a video of a doctor with a thick accent trying to explain something not even relevant to anything?  It’s 7:30 a.m. and our coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.

Finally we retired to deliberate.  The payoff at stake was around $3 million.  I listened to them debate minor issues for about 15 minutes.  Then they looked at me and the foreman said, “we haven’t heard anything from you yet.”

I said, “I really haven’t seen anything to convince me that either of the defendants is negligible.  I mean, I feel sorry for the guy, it sucks to get hurt and not be able to do what you want to do, but does that mean you’re entitled to millions of dollars from someone who really didn’t do anything wrong?”

Their light bulbs must’ve lit up, because 10 minutes later we were heading out with the verdict.

Afterwards, the jurors got to meet the plaintiff and attorneys.  I told the injured guy “best of luck, you’ll do fine.”  Then I saw the prosecuting attorney.  I approached him.

I shook his hand, leaned in, and said, “sorry, man, you just didn’t bring it.”

He smiled sheepishly and said, “I know.”


See?  It’s fun, and you can help justice be served.  Plus, you get, like, $5 a day for services rendered.  Sweet.


P.S.: for the duration of the trial, the jurors were strictly instructed to not discuss the case amongst themselves.  I never did.  But my nice alone-time lunches outside Daley Center were often interrupted by jurors who REALLY wanted to talk.