Monday, April 23, 2012

A Summons From the Courthouse...

Last month I received my very first jury summons ever. Yes, that loud groan you heard at the beginning of March, coming from the direction of North Carolina was me. It’s not that I don’t want to do my civic duty. In fact, when I was younger I always thought I would make the best juror. I’m honest. I’m fair. I’m open-minded. I'd be Henry Fonda from 12 Angry Men if the situation called for it, back during my idealistic youth. (Who am I kidding...? I'd still be Henry Fonda if the situation called for it. I'm just too moral to behave differently.)

But April was a bad month for me. I had the RT Convention in Chicago 10-15 April, and I had the Spring Fling Conference in Chicago 26-28 April. And my jury duty date was scheduled for April 19th. Right between the two conferences dates. What if I got selected for some big criminal trial and had to miss Spring Fling? I would be pretty far from happy, I can tell you that! But I would do my duty, just like Henry Fonda in that classic film.

After I groaned, I re-read the letter from my county, which stated that I needed to keep up with my summons and bring it to jury duty on the 19th. Great! Now I have to keep up with one measly piece of paper for more than 6 weeks? Really?!?! Me? That is a definite problem for someone who forgets their iPhone in post offices.

But what other choice did I have? I had to keep up with the summons, right? So I thought and thought about the best place to put it so I wouldn’t lose it and…. Yeah, that’s right, I completely forgot where I put the summons. I tore my house apart. Looked in every drawer. Lifted every couch and chair cushion in the house. And crawled under every bed, 'til I was covered in dust bunnies.

The blasted thing was nowhere!

So I called the county courthouse, fell on my sword, and apologized profusely for my ineptitude. Long story short - they sent me a new summons. When it arrived in the mail, I sat my teenage son down and said, “All right, I need you to help me. Where is the best place we can put this, and then when I can’t find it again, you’ll remember where it is?” He said, “Mom, I’d put it on the refrigerator, if I were you.”

The refrigerator!!

My mouth dropped open in surprise…

Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s where I put the first summons. I went straight to the kitchen, and sure enough… right there hanging on the door to the freezer was my original jury summons. I definitely had a Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment. But at least I ended up with two summonses, which is always better than one - at least if you're me.

Anyway, I still had a couple of weeks to prepare for my date with the jury box. I made arrangements with my office to be gone for the day. I made arrangements with my ex-husband to drop my son off late. I put the courthouse address in my GPS so I wouldn't get lost. And then the night before I was to report for my civic duty, I called the phone number on the summons (yes, both of them) to double check that they actually needed me. And you know what...? After all that - they didn’t. I was free to go about my day on the 19th as though I'd never received that little piece of paper in the mail.

Despite all the preparing and organizing, despite all my thoughts of big criminal cases, and despite all of the insanity surrounding my lost summons, my job, my son - I didn’t get to play Henry Fonda after all. It was kind of a let down, honestly (after all the hoopla.) But at least my trip to Spring Fling will be unaffected. Thank heavens!

So tell me all your jury duty stories. Have you ever served on a jury? If so, were there any Henry Fonda moments in the jury room? Have you ever gotten out of jury duty? If so, do you have any advice for being dismissed? Just for fun... what is the craziest thing you could do, or thing you could say, to get dismissed without a backwards glance? (My co-worker suggested I tell them my opinion about local law enforcement... I - um - have issues with authority figures. But that's a blog post for another day.)

* Originally posted at LadyScribes April 20, 2012