Sunday, March 17, 2019
The Luck of the Draw -- Nonfiction
Three or four times a year, I buy a Powerball ticket. Just one. And I don't pay the extra dollar for the "Multiplier." I figure if my ticket is the right ticket, $448 Million, or whatever, is sufficient. No need to be greedy.
Back in February I got that official looking bit of mail. The highlighted words "LEGAL DOCUMENT: JURY SUMMONS" was what made it look official. There's nothing like correspondence from the IRS or a summons to court to make a person nervous.
I've been in Colorado for seven years now and this is my first call to jury duty.
In Colorado, prospective jurors are randomly chosen from a pool that includes voter records, driver's license and non-driver ID records, and state income tax forms. I guess if you don't vote, drive, or pay income tax, you don't have to serve. I, personally, don't know anyone over 18 who would not qualify to get such a summons. Amazingly, some people never get called.
It's the luck of the draw.
Most people's experiences of courtroom activities are limited to television cop shows. I suppose, in a way, I'm more experienced with real life courtrooms than most of my fellow citizens. Many years ago I was a reporter for a small-town newspaper. I did feature stories, obituaries, edited the Women's Page, some photography. I did pretty much whatever my editor wanted me to, including covering the Federal and District Courts.
It was a pretty small town -- but big enough to have a daily newspaper, three banks, a McDonald's, and a Walmart. And, being the county seat, meant it was home to the Federal Court and County Court Houses. Plus, since it was in Oklahoma there were umpteen gas stations and churches.
I covered all kinds of trials -- fraud, breaking and entering, rape, murder -- but the one that got my by-line on the front page and most excited my editor was an Alienation of Affection suit. What! you say. One woman was suing another woman for stealing her man?
Yep, the local Presbyterian minister's wife was suing the local Episcopal priest's wife for stealing her husband. Apparently the affair had been grist for the local rumor mill for weeks, but without something formal and official, the local newspaper couldn't print it. Oh, yes and the offending woman was the daughter of one of the local bankers. Such scandal!
But, I digress.
The above jury summons came with instructions and information. Call this telephone number. "If your number is within the range of numbers stated, you will need to report for jury duty." There's a long list of conditions and situations the court will accept to excuse you from service.
There are also provisions for punishment if you fail to obey a juror summons. Up to $750 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
I have no condition or situation that I can legitimately claim for exemption from jury duty. Actually, I don't necessarily want to be excused. I feel that, like voting, jury duty is a civic responsibility to be accepted respectfully and done diligently.
So the Powerball drawing was last Wednesday. Of the six numbers necessary to win so many millions of dollars, I only had one number right. Then Friday I called the courthouse to check my number with the range of numbers and -- guess what -- I only had one number for that too, but it was easily "within the range of numbers stated." Yep, I win.
Now to stress.
The summons said they're doing repair work on the parking area so parking will be limited and they recommend taking public transportation. Cool. I love the light rail. My husband and I drove over to the courthouse yesterday while it was closed to see how close the light rail station is to the courthouse's front door. It's an easy block and a half or so. And if it rains I have an umbrella.
What should I wear? I've given up wearing make-up in favor of painting my hair. A splash of pink to go with a pink t-shirt. Or a rainbow of colors to go with my John Lennon t-shirt. Green for St. Pat's Day. You know.
My husband says anything that won't offend the judge. So, maybe painted hair is out and, as for clothing, sad to say, I don't think I own anything that would offend a judge. Still, should I wear pants or a dress? A blazer with the pants or maybe a sweater? Floral or paisley for the dress or black? And shoes! Probably shouldn't wear sneakers -- even though I'll be walking that block and a half from the light rail station -- or flip-flops.
What about food? We're supposed to plan on being there from 8 til 5. Is there a snack bar that sells food in the courthouse? I don't know. I've only been in the courthouse twice and neither time was I concerned for food. Or coffee! Will they have coffee available?
I don't know what kinds of cases they try in the court I've been summoned to. I know I can't serve on a capital case, because I do not support the death penalty and could not vote to convict if that were a possible sentence. Anything else, I could do.
You know what else I don't know? Out of all the people summoned to serve I don't even know if I'll be chosen for a trial. Guess I'll find out tomorrow.
If I'm not chosen, that'll be okay. If I am, that'll be okay, too.
Luck of the draw.