There’s nothing quite like digging out from a week or two on the road. Catching up on work, catching up with people, catching up with laundry…it’s all just one week of catchup. And nothing can throw a wrench into those catchup plans quite like being called to jury duty.
Now I know it’s important. I know if I ever get hauled off to court I would hope to have a jury of my peers there to decide my fate. But maybe at some point we need to look at the logistics of the current process.
Today I sit up on the 12th floor of the Seattle Court Building, with about 60 fellow strangers. To make the math really easy, let’s say the average salary in the room is $52,000 a year, so everyone makes $1000 a week or $200 a day. So, on average, the Tuesday to Thursday interruption would cost everyone about $600. For 60 people, we’re talking about $36,000 in wages being used for the process.
Now consider these cases are misdemeanors. No case will be more than a few hundred or maybe even a few thousand dollars. We’re taking $36,000 in wages to settle cases worth 10% of that total.
Not only that, but consider the juror who works for himself or is not paid by his employer to go to jury duty. If a guy is suing for $600, it would actually make more sense for the jurors to each chip in $100 to simply settle the case so they can go back to work.
Does this seem like the best way to handle this? This scenario didn’t even take into account the salaries of the lawyers, bailiffs, security, judges, or any other cost associated with a trial.
So if you have not been privileged with this process, here’s how it works. You show up at 8:30am and watch a pretty ironic video explaining how important your role in the process is. You get put up in a giant room which supposedly has wi-fi access (down at the time of this writing), some soda machines, coffee, magazines, etc…And you just wait. At some point they are going to come and call a bunch of people for a case.
Apparently there are 5 jury rooms, so I expect they will call 12 people at a time, with 6 people becoming actual jurors. It’s unclear whether you get bounced back to the juror pool if you don’t make the cut from 12 to 6.
Big News—-Now at 10:30, we are getting word that people are getting called. Here are the names – Judy, Earl, Sarah, Ron, Jerry, Wendy, Theodore, Anthony, Albert, Thomas, Beverly, Kirsten, Elmer, Malia, and Rob. So I don’t get picked. I get to stay in the lobby here and keep working I suppose.
14 names. Maybe there are 70 of us in here. Ok, change all the calculations up above.
I guess the rest of us sit around until the next case is ready to go to court. Maybe everyone else will settle and we all get to leave. Would that we could be so lucky.
Now if the wi-fi was working, this whole thing wouldn’t be much more than a minor inconvenience. I’d get some work done, and all that would be different would be the view. But I’m not sure why I’d expect the IT department for the City to be able to keep a wireless router running. Apparently they are assembling all the best and brightest minds down there to figure out which cord to plug back in. I can barely contain my optimism that we’ll have access anytime in the near future.
In the meantime, it appears the other computers are up and running, so as soon as the selected jurors head to court, I should be able to sneak in and siphon off an Ethernet connection to broadcast more riveting jury duty play by play, and more importantly, get some work done.
We’ve been sitting in a room all day, and only 16 of the group have been called. Not sure what the rest of us our here for. They let us all go to lunch from 12-1:30, so now we’re back in the room like we are doing homework in detention. It’s werid, we’re all working or doing stuff we’d be doing anyway, but we’re annoyed because we are stuck in this building.
We hear another announcement for a cattle call: Here come the names: gail, laura, geoffrey, guy, chris, dwayne, laura, william, berthold, teresa, edith, kay, eve, william, debra.
No Andy on that list. I’ve been spared again.