Jury duty for the holidays – how festive!
I received a summons for jury duty two weeks ago and ignored it as long as I could, but eventually I had to address it and fill out and return my juror questionnaire (fortunately, I learned that part can be done online).
This is Federal court, which come to find out is a lot different than state court.
Moving to a closer courthouse
With state court, I could request my service be moved to a closer courthouse because my hardship is simply the fact that I can’t get to Boston by 8:00 a.m. from the remote suburb where I live without leaving by 6:00 a.m. (Every time I think of this I wonder why my town is included in a county where I have to allot two hours for travel time in order to get to the main court house.)
With Federal court, you’re not allowed to have service transferred to a closer courthouse. (There are only three in this state and even with the next closest one, it would still take me more than an hour to get there and possibly up to an hour and a half during commuter time.)
This means I would have to leave the house before two or more of the other family members are even awake. One of those family members still needs a good deal of prodding to get up and get going before he leaves for the bus.
Serving for one day
Service with state court is usually a day. I have done it before and in all the times I served it was no more than a day. There was a time when I was just out of college when I showed up and they didn’t need me at all and sent me home pretty much right away. Good thing because I was super hung over. There were a couple of other times I got summonsed and both times I requested the service be moved to closer courts (because I was older and wiser than I was just out of college and plus I have kids and don’t have time to fool around). Both of those times I sat in the jury room wondering what in the world the trial could be about, since the jury is supposed to be peers of the defendant. It didn’t appear that any of the jury pool had anything in common with each other – not age, race, or location, judging from the few people I chatted with – so how could there be six to 12 of us having something in common with the defendant? Some people showed up with their kids, no doubt in a bid to be excused. Because really, how practical is that? The last time I had state court jury duty, I requested a location change and the service was postponed, too, because I guess they must not have that many jury trials at the courthouse in the next town over (!). Ultimately, not long before the time I would have to appear, the service was cancelled altogether, but apparently it still counted. I guess willingness to serve counts.
Doing my Patriotic duty at what cost?
Federal court jury duty is 15 business days. I would be on call for 15 days, between December 5 and December 23. I honestly cannot think of a worse time. Never mind work, there are the holidays. If I were actually serving on a trial for all that time, I would not be able to have access to the outside world. Imagine if I was on call for 14 days and then on day 15 I was asked to serve on a jury? And got sequestered? Did you know the reimbursement is $40 a day and parking can be up to $38 near the Boston courthouse? I want to do my Patriotic duty but at what cost?
Willing or not, I don’t have much choice. Even though I asked to postpone, I didn’t fall into any of the categories that are grounds for requesting deferral,* such as being over 70, having full time custody of a child under 10 (because my baby is now 11), needing to provide full-time care of aged or infirmed people in my custody…though actually, wait…if my husband gets his shoulder surgery after Thanksgiving, he’d be an infirmed person in my custody!
His surgeon delayed the surgery again and currently it is scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving, which ought to make for a lovely and cheerful celebration. I am joking. (I am not a fan of Thanksgiving anyway, since my mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at Thanksgiving time eight years ago.) My husband’s surgeon flat out told him he will be miserable for five to seven days…and he can’t drive or even ride in a car…he’s not even supposed to do anything with his arm. So that means that I’ll have to serve the holiday meal at home, which I was definitely not planning to do. We usually go to a buffet somewhere for both Thanksgiving and Easter with my brother and the kids of we have them, but we don’t this year. UGH.
Seriously, though, shoulder surgery might be my ticket out of this…
*The other three excuses (if I’ve served five days of state court, served as a federal court juror in the past three years, or if I were a volunteer safety person) do not apply.