So I became a juror..

Targaryen went on a bit of a rant said

I initially planned to take some days off during our slower summer days. The previous Friday and Monday made for a long weekend. Before I took Friday off I’d mentioned in our Slack that I’d never been on a jury before or even been selected. Unfortunately, a Jury Summons in my mail had other plans.

I’ve never served on a jury before, so Monday comes and I think I’ll show up in whatever and the chances of me getting on would be slim. I’m very early like an hour earlier. Required time 8:30am… I got nervous I’d be late so I was awake at 5:00am and start getting ready. I don’t mess around with Dallas traffic and wanted to get to the spot and parked with no trouble so I leave at 6:30am. GPS gets me there with minimal traffic within 15 minutes. So I’m standing in a line full of hemming, hawing humanity who are equally as annoyed with the prospect of a lost day which resembles an airport check line to get in the front door where they have you throw everything into a plastic tub and walk through a metal detector. So in goes two sets of keys, wallet, phone, a book to read in case of a wait, and a water bottle. Nope, sorry had to throw that bottle out. So in goes two sets of keys, wallet, phone, a book. Fine, they have a snack bar right there I can get water there.

The line moves fairly quickly I’m pressured to get all my stuff out of the tub quickly as they’re getting people through the line. So I scoop everything out and find a spot on the floor to reassemble myself on display for the various law enforcement to look at me like I’m a weirdo.

I get everything put away and wander into the snack bar… nope too busy it’s 7am and I need to figure out where I’m going first. I have no idea where I’m going so I follow some other equally lost people to the third floor and we wait in line. The line moves slowly, as I turn the corner it’s a line for computers. Eventually a worker comes along and says “hey uh if you filled your info in online you just go in.” Sweet! People spill out of line and a make a B line for swiftly filling room full of chairs like we’re kids picking seats for a school presentation. Eventually, a Sherriff comes through and says “Is everyone in the right room?” I dunno, I guess I am? “Did anyone get an email that says you need to go to X floor?” People look around confused. I check my email on my smartphone. Yup there it was literally hours after I’d filled in my “sure I’d love to attend a jury selection” after have no choice because I’d waited too long to opt-out. I only check my mail once every two weeks. Usually, there is nothing there for me to care about.

So, I head up to the 5th floor. Luckily, I’m earlier than most of the other people just figuring out they had an email so I walked into a hall with hard wooden benches and claim my seat as people start wandering in to find seats. Look at my phone 8 am, nice any minute now I tell them “I don’t wanna” and go home.

1 hour and 30 hard wooden bench minutes later…

These benches aren’t the good type to read so that’s uncomfortable having my neck craned downward. Check my phone (oops forgot to charge) I’m at 14% so I need to go easy on that. I content myself with watching the various people coming in or walking around. Plenty of older people and suited lawyer types walk in one door, then into another door then out of the hall, then back in. Finally, a sheriff opens the double doors and tells us “if we hear our names to come and get a number card then sit back down!” Several minutes and people getting up and sitting down later I hear my name “Damn they got me.” I get up to get my card, it was #29. I turn around and I see some rat had taken my seat… So I pick up my book from the end of the bench where it had been pushed aside from seat saver to “this is my seat now.”

We sat or stood, if you were unlucky enough to be me and have your seat stolen, for another 30 to 45 minutes or an hour maybe? The door opens again “sorry folks the defense wants to ask for a number shuffle so we’ll need those cards back. We’ll take them back and reissue them.” A collective “ugh” could be heard through the crowd of more than 100 people. Sherriff disappears. A few minutes later a judge steps through the door and explains the situation to us and why they’d want that and tell us why jury duty is important. Throws a few jokes at us and she’s pretty fun actually “sorry we aren’t just sitting back here getting pedicures and drinking Starbucks or anything thing this has a legal reason.” Alright. Finally the sheriff comes through again and starts calling names again. And I heard my name again. By this time I’d slumped down on the floor waiting. Not sure if you’ve sat in a courthouse waiting floor before but it’s only slightly more comfortable than sitting on rock-covered ground. I haul myself up and grab my number: #18 I think ok well I’ll be earlier in the line or something so we’re ok.

45 minutes later 75 of us get called into the courtroom to pack it in elbow-to-elbow and masks on. I got a seat sweet! “the rest of you all can go home!, thank you for your time and attendance!” Damn, I missed out twice. Unlucky. We’re introduced to the Prosecution and the Defense whom are standing still. In walks the judge as we stand up. She tells us how things work and that we’re going to be questioned by the various lawyers so they can pick who 12 jurors and 2 alternates. The crowd looks around likely thinking the same thing I am: “what are my chances?” So Prosecution starts off telling us a vague idea of what the case is about. #15! how important is evidence in a case?" They call us by number only and it reminds of being in bootcamp, #63 previously you’d said would need to hear from the victims in order to make a determination. #18 what is assault with a deadly weapon mean to you? And on it went. Then it was the Defense’s turn to have at us. #59 previously you’d say you’d be biased based on this…" #38 If you don’t talk we’re going to pick you so you might as well give us something to work with. We don’t bite. #18 “Same thing you all need to talk or I might end up picking you.” “I say I understand…” but I’m thinking “damn, I was really hoping my bright red slides, short and Meh t-shirt would be enough for them to decide I wasn’t their guy.” It continues for a while until the defense was finished. We retire outside into the now empty hall to and are told to wait again. By now my back is tired and, my neck is tired, my butt actually hurts so everything was uncomfortable. They come back out sometime later and pull us back in. And they start pulling numbers. Number #18… “dammit.” I join the others chosen in the juror’s box and I sink thankfully into a comfy chair. We’re talked to by the Judge some more. Then they inform us we have to sit on the wooden benches rather than the comfy juror seats due to covid protocols. Oh no, my body screams as we’re sat 2 to a bench section. We’re then led to the back to our deliberation room and given some instructions about how to enter and exit the room, don’t talk to anyone especially the various legal teams or witnesses, families, etc that might be there and we’re led to lunch.


We assemble downstairs and are told it was the first day they had the cafeteria running so it’s slow and short-staffed. So I buy a grilled chicken breast, a scoop of potato, and a scoop of rice with cool ranch Doritos and a Dunkin’s bottled iced coffee. $12. What? Lunch isn’t provided? Well damn, that sucks. I’ll need to bring mine tomorrow. I seat and eat quietly for the hour and then we reassemble and are escorted back to our deliberation room to wait.

We’re escorted back into the courtroom where the prosecution and defense finally explain to us what their cases are about in a broad overview. Then as if to end on a cliff hanger the Judge says “alright we’re going to break for a day come back tomorrow at 8 am…don’t look up any information about this case, don’t talk to anyone friends, family, no notes just come in and be ready to listen tomorrow.”

Day 2

The rest proceeds as you might think. The prosecution parades in various witnesses, experts, officers, and so on to show the case being presented. If you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny or Law and Order then you basically know how it works. Just generally less theatrics, they trade a few barbs and the case isn’t solved in one day. The Defense lawyer cross-examines them afterward each time. Day 2 is easier except for the benches. When we break we’re escorted to the back to sit in our room. The Judge wasn’t kidding sitting and listening to various medical reports, experts, pictures of blood, etc really takes it out of you. Each juror is simultaneously on the verge of falling asleep and intensely interested. Medical damage run-downs are obviously the more boring part but it does serve to show the extent of the damage down, the bodycams, CSI photos, and narrative is much more interesting. Lunch is… almost three hours? Some Jurors began to speculate that maybe they were working out a plea deal? See, during the trial, the prosecution and defense/defendant are looking directly at us (which is a little unnerving at first). They’re likely looking to read the room and see if we’re buying what they’re selling us. To see who was shocked by what info may be to see who and what if anything some people might have looked up. One Juror suspects that the Defense lawyer is looking at us occasionally from his desk to see where he and his defendant’s case sits. Ok, back to the deliberation room --> We pushed the call bell (maybe they forgot us?) and the Sherriff lined us up and marched us into the room where it turns out to work was being done that didn’t need a Jury assembled but the case continued. More witnesses, evidence, and so on. We ended a little earlier than yesterday’s 6 pm.

Day 3

Same as the previous though the witnesses and experts become more sparse. The picture for both teams is becoming a lot more clear. We’re introduced to a small twist in the story via the Defendant which is related to possible racism against his client and one of the previous witnesses. Everyone on the Jury is thrown a little bit because this wasn’t mentioned earlier.

We have a couple of breaks one break for lunch same as yesterday. Then something odd happens. We break from lunch and are marched back in the Prosecution rests then the Defense rests immediately upon us sitting down, so we got back up and got sent back to the deliberation room. To wait a few minutes.Then the Prosecution and Defense are allowed to close their cases. Essentially reaffirm their cases and put bows on them albeit with more emotion than the first time around. Then we’re brought back in where the Judge explains to us that we cannot discuss the case amongst each other. From minute one you are not allowed to discuss anything from the trial with anyone even jurors. No writing anything down, no writing down questions, nothing. You sit and listen and gather information, each lunch and talk about anything other than the case in your little room. The Judge gives us instructions, picks a Foreperson (person to deliver the verdict of our decision) and discusses the case and we lock our phones up. They then bring all the evidence they can pictures, recordings, videos, etc for us to deliberate about.

It was a madhouse, of theories and what-ifs and I want to know about X and such. It went on for a few minutes. People want to know about the racism part. People want to know about one of the shady witnesses. Was it a drug deal gone bad? But some of us have to reign in the questions because we can only work with the facts we’re given. There is no more coming. Some people are troubled talking some people feel uneasy making a decision with so much but at the same time so little information. Holes are plenty in the case. I’d say we deliberated a good bit before we all collectively decided to land on guilty for both issues in this case. There was a sort of quiet “welp, that’s it.” and we got marched into the court. The foreperson stood and delivered the news. The last part was the Defense lawyer required all of us to deliver a “guilty” decision to make sure we all felt the same. That was unsettling because for the first time I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me including the person whose life was in some part in my hands. We did that twice and the Judge told us to go back and wait as she wished to talk with us as sentencing was carried out today and we weren’t part of that.

Our phones were unlocked we were provided sheets that claimed out Jury Duty hours and such. The Judge stepped in to thank us for coming in and tell us that they’ve been having problems getting jurors and she used this time to sort of “life the weight” so to speak from us as it wasn’t an easy decision for any of us. Then she invited in the Lawyers from the Prosecution and Defense so we could ask some simple questions or anything. This part was the most interesting because we could ask about some procedures that happened and why and so on. Then just like that, a room full of people of various races, ages, and backgrounds handed back their Juror badges and I wasn’t Juror #18 anymore, I was Targaryen again. We walked out of the back into the waiting hall with a last goodbye or nice to meet you to spread out amongst Dallas county again.