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Jury Duty, Guilty Or Not

Updated on April 5, 2015

Oh No!

Seriously, another jury summons. The third this year. The likelihood of actually getting called two days before Thanksgiving is slim, still have to get prepared. Dutifully I called. This call satisfied the summons, the group was,"Called off". If the phone call ends with," You have completed your obligation", you are supposedly done for a year. The following story, another summons was a little more complicated, but not much. If you report for jury duty then receive another summons within a year notify the court. You have served the yearly obligation.

Take Care Of Your Summons

  • You can follow directions and go to jury duty.
  • You can ask for an extension.
  • You can pay a $300 fine if you forgot. (Guilty)
  • .You can forget until your calendar alert reminds you and be unprepared and stress until you either go or get called off. This just happened to me I do not recommend this method.

The Dreaded Summons

On the way in the door you notice the mail in the box. Hoping something interesting, like a check, is there you grab the mail. Open the door, thumb through the mail. There it is "The dreaded summons". Whether you like jury duty or not the summons is always dreaded. Reorganizing your life, for an undetermined length of time makes the summons awful. Open the envelope, look at the date. Then seriously decide if you can report for this summons. .It is the way the American system of justice works, It is important. Read the summons carefully.

Ignore a JURY your own risk.

My Opinion Of Jury Duty...

Inside the majestic and sometimes mysterious buildings of our justice systems lurks one of the greatest legal systems in the world. For the most part the legal systems in the United States works.The history of the particular courthouse I was summoned to involves Earl Warren. The Earl Warren who was attorney general of the state of California. The same Earl Warren who later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

I like jury duty, if it doesn't interfere with work, house guests, 6 month dental appointments and previously planned trips.

Really, no time is convenient for jury duty. Sometimes it is obvious that you must get out of that specific date. The court can be accommodating as long as you notify them well in advance. Other times grit your teeth, enter the date into your calendar and hope you don't forget. The fine for not appearing or notifying the the Court is $300.

Jury duty is an adventure, make the best of it. The people you meet are fascinating. The things people say to judges are fascinating.

In a very short period of time lawyers determine if your the person they are looking for. The research determining what kinds of jurors are preferred for any given case, closely rivals advertizing research.

Many times the legal defense team hires ordinary people to participate in mock trials. These take place weeks before your appearance for jury service.

I Can't Afford Jury Duty

Jurors are paid a small stipend. How much you get paid varies according to different kinds of courts. Most courts pay a mileage stipend for those who live a distance from the court they are summons to. Federal courts pay jurors from day one. Local courts pay after the second day. Federal court can require travel from any place in the courts district and may require staying overnight some place. The one time I was summons to Federal court for jury duty there were people who lived several hundred miles away. Believe me they were looking for ways to not get on that jury. The trial was expected to last about four months.

I didn't want to get on that jury because the attorney who was grilling the jurors for the government never learned to ask a question. The judge kept explaining to her the theory of a question. After four days we were all ready to pull our hair out. She lectured every prospected juror, and never got the idea of the question.

The Big Day

Sunday night, the calendar reminder says, "Call for jury instructions". You make the call. Relief, you don't have to report in the morning. Hold it! You do need to call at 11am for a possible 1pm appearance.* Make a note to remind yourself to call. Then call everyone you work with to let them know there is a possibility for an afternoon interruption. Cram a days work into the morning

*These instructions are for local California county courts.

Security Entrance
Security Entrance

You Have To Go

11:01 Make the call to the court house. The recording says appear at 1pm. One hour and 59 minutes to get 35 miles to the county court house. Public transit,or pray for a parking place? The train ticket worth five dollars and seventy-five cents in the purse decides. Parking in the city would be more than that even for just few hours. Post the out of the office sign.

There is an email that has to be answered. One hour and thirty minutes left for travel. The preloaded train ticket saves a bunch of time. Slide through the stile, racing up the steps, dashing though the open door, and collapsing onto the seat as the door closes and swish the train is on its way.

One hour left. In town police start walking through the train. Finally, the train reaches the court stop with 15 minutes before my appearance time. There are three blocks to walk. A guy with a summons sticking out of his book stops to ask the three policemen, at the top of the stairs, a question. Assuming he has asks directions to the court house following him seems like a good idea. Walking at top speed because you don't want to be late; partly because nobody else is around downtown. It is really weird there are are so few people. We arrive at the court house with enough time to undress for the security check and slide into the jurors holding tank. Look for the instruction board to tell what part of your paper you have to submit to the clerk. Make sure you print your language and sign the thing only after you get there.

Find a seat and begin the long wait interrupted by the announcement of your name. They call people individually if you are bad. My crime was not checking the I speak English box.

While you wait you can think about beautiful Lake Merritt that is just outside the Oakland court house.
While you wait you can think about beautiful Lake Merritt that is just outside the Oakland court house.


Be sure you have something to do while you wait. Anticipate waiting. When you are called into the courtroom all your materials for waiting will be taboo.

The clerk announces the protocol. "Pick up a work slip regardless of your employment status.. This you have proof that you reported". Periodically look around to see if you know anyone.

Four televisions are on soap operas.

Actually, two T.V.s are set on the Real Housewives of New York.There doesn't seem much difference between the reality shows and soap operas. To break up the time, and interrupt the TV, a jury promotional movie is shown telling all the reasons you should love being on a jury.

People keep straying in the whole time, The attendant isn't pleasant to them.

The Coffee Break

After the movie there is a 10 minute break. Everyone dashes to the snack shop, which is in a closet size room. The proprietor knows where everything is and adeptly passes out hot dogs and takes money. The coffee was inexpensive and fairly decent. Ten minutes isn't very long to eat or drink anything, hurry so you can get back and wait some more. No food or drinks allowed in the waiting room.

The Judge

My last couple of jury summons, the prospective jurors have been directly addressed by a judge. This day the judge came in and thanked us for coming. "The case has been settled because you came," she says. "Neither party wanted to go to jury.Thank you for your service. You are free to go". The last announcement, "Don't forget to stamp your parking slip". Everyone leaps up and dashes to the door. As the group walks toward the train people start to chat. There are more police at the train station. The train arrives. Swish the door closes after you. This is not the direct train home, but I would rather transfer in the suburbs than wait underground in the city. Police with riot gear on this train. This is odd even for Oakland, California.


The Police on the train in riot gear the day of my summons were to quill expected rioting

It was the first day of Occupy Oakland. A wise person would have checked the local news in the city before hopping on the train.

Regular public transit riders can get alerts on their cell phones that tell when stations are closed by rioting and other not so newsworthy events. You take your changes if your not a regular.

This summons was almost perfect. Quick and easy. Most trials last a couple of days, or perhaps a week or two. Some juries can last for months.

The folks who serve on juries, determine if defendants have broken the law or not. This is privilege; This is participating in government in a vital and important way. Few countries allow their citizens such privilege.

Are you guilty or not of refusing the privilege?

A marker1225 Fallon Street, Oakland, Ca -
1225 Fallon St, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hey, tirelesstraveler,

      Pardon my boldness, but you are a sweetheart for listing me and my jury duty hub at the bottom. I loved this hub you wrote. Fact is, it was better than mine. More realistic. Voted up and away.

      You are such a sweet friend and follower. I am a blessed man.

      Your Life-long Friend, KENNETH

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Laure, That's good to know.

    • profile image

      Laure 3 years ago

      Parking is only $6/day in downtown Oakland with your validated juror badge.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This was an interesting recap of the jury process and the stress and preparation and sacrifice that goes along with serving. I have been called for jury duty several times and on one trial where I was picked. It was an awesome responsibility and one that I still remember to this day, more interesting than any soap opera or reality TV show.

    • profile image

      tirelesstraveler 6 years ago

      I think you can postpone for no reason up to six months. Checking the courts website will be helpful. My son was summoned 3 weeks before school let out last May. He was able to postpone through the court website. That was for Alameda county, CA

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I just received a jury summons yesterday! I'm so bummed because it's a few days before we leave on an annual girls weekend in Vegas. Do you think they would postpone my summons for an already paid vacation? If not, I'm just hoping to be dismissed. I have been dismissed on every jury I've had to call in for!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I had to report in last month for jury duty but did not get picked.They told me that I am free for four years before I get called again.

      we don't have the parking problems as our city only has a population of about 20,000.

      I was supposed to go in in the spring but I had fallen and broke my hip

      Years ago when I lived in a bigger city I had to report in for jury duty a few times and had to go in and wait around. It is nicer that they have the system where you can call in and not take days just to see if they might need you.

      I did sit on a jury several years ago in another small city. It was interesting and I think everyone should do it at least once.

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 6 years ago

      I haven't had to do this in a long while but my first experience was an eye opener.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

      wow and I thought my 2 calls to duty were intense! onc here in tucson where I had to park in the downtown understory garage garage and walk up then across the street so hubby said "take your knif"...a wedding gift/elk antler carved in shape of a hawk :)...the sheriff said, "like me to keep that for you young lady?" so that says how long ago that was! and the other was far far worse/ay Minette, traffic light!!!!! everyone knews everyone and soap opera? dude they LIVE to sit on a jury!!

      n tucson I didn't have to say what I feel, they wanted to know who did not drink alcoho. I raised my hand, who thought anyone drinking and driving should go to jail, I raised my hand, who thought they could not be impartial if a dui ends in a fatal car wreck, I raised my hand

      ole bay minette/diff story...there I had to say my truth loud andclear in apacked tiny old courthouse room with people sanding all along the walls and spilling into the hall and , no lady ith hot dogs and coffee, nothing but the swishing sound of anything paper to supplement the overworked air conditioner, 100 degrees outside fahrenheit and degrees humidity...130 inside humidity in that room

      there I had to stand my if I lied my five foot and as loud as my little voice would go say "Your Honor, I will not hudge"

      called to the bench, lecture given, taken into room off the big room with the steno lady judge and both lawyers, whispers, lectures and incredulous stares. Finally the judge ak me where I was "Born n raised ma'am?"

      temper in checkI told him, 27 years in Bhm, AL, the last 20 in Az, Mt, Wy. nods and knowing smirks all around and I am escorted with hand on my elbow by the judge!back to the bench. Same thing AGAIN! publicly announcing when asked "I will not judge another human" finally I am let go

      sunday I go to Bay Minette Baptist Church for the 4th to the last time...I love to sing/I love choir...guess what the service was about? guess who got up out of the front row of the choir and walked out?

      dude, good thing I had my passport, hubby and I may never have made it back here to our heart home!

      just to let you know, so far this is the most iteresting/useful haven't decided yet hub :)