A Letter about Jury Duty

Dear Uncle Reginald and Aunt Gladys,

Hello! How is life up there in the big city? I am glad that you guys enjoy it there, because someone has to live there, I guess. But I still am quite happy with the small town life. Speaking of that, here is a small town story to let you know how things work around here.

The other day, I got a check in the mail for $33. That check was my earnings for two months of jury duty. Now I know that you you are thinking that is not a lot of money for two months, but don’t worry, because it is all good. I am quite happy with that $33.

I also know that you are thinking that two months of jury duty sounds like a long time. And it is, I guess. But I did not have to go every day. Everyone had to show up on the first day to get the standard orientation speech, but then after that, we would just call in to see if we were to go for the next trial date. They told us the first date to call, and then the messages after that would let us know what to do next.

I was a little concerned, knowing that we had some big events in that time, such as a trip to Arkansas, Lads to Leaders, and Laura’s birthday. Fortunately, we could ask to be excused for the times that we knew we were going to be gone, as long as the entire jury pool wasn’t going to be gone at the same time. Actually, there were not any trials scheduled for the week of the Arkansas trip, and they said that there probably would not be any trials scheduled the week before Easter, which would take care of both Laura’s birthday and Lads to Leaders. I still asked to be excused those days, just in case something came up.

During the orientation, the judge explained how things work. I should probably mention that this was a circuit court, and the judge presides over several different counties, so that he would be in our county some weeks and in other counties other weeks. That explains the two month term, instead of the standard one or two week term that most people are familiar with. So it was not two solid months of trials. And besides, the judge said that a lot of the cases were settled before they would come to trial. He said that thanks to us being there to be on a jury, the threat of an actual, impending trial caused many, maybe even most, people to work things out themselves. I could appreciate that. The more people that came to an agreement, the less that we would have to be there for jury duty.

So when the time came, I started calling the phone number. The first trial was settled out of court. The next one was postponed. Another one was settled. But eventually, we did have to go for a trial. We all showed up, and they chose a jury and some alternates. My name was never drawn, so those of us who did not get chosen were free to go that day. Yay for us, although  from the questions that potential jurors were asked, it sounded like it might be a little interesting to serve on the jury. But I gladly left and went on to work.

We had to go again a week or so later so that a grand jury could be chosen. The judge said that the grand jury term goes until the next jury duty session, so the grand jury folks would be on call until July. However, he said that they had some evidence to examine that day, but he didn’t know of anything else coming up after that day, so they probably would not be needed again. Once again, my name was not chosen, and once again I did not complain.

Wouldn’t you know it, the next trial date was Laura’s birthday. I was pretty sure I had stretched my time that I had asked to be excused for L2L to also include her birthday, which was the day before we were to leave for Nashville. I was wondering if I should call to confirm that instead of just not showing up at all, but I waited it out. Sure enough, that case was settled out of court as well. Good for them, and good for us.

After that, there were two more trials scheduled for the end of April. Guess what? They were both either postponed or settled, too. And with that, I was done! Nice to see that some people can still work out their differences!

We were to be paid $11 for each day that we actually served, and as we only went three days (orientation, one trial, grand jury), I earned a grand total of $33, which is what the check was for. And really, I don’t always feel like I earned that, because the latest I was ever there was 11:00 AM, and all I ever did was sit around and wait not to be called. But I will still cash the check.

So anyway, that is what small town jury duty is like, just in case you were wondering. The only bad part of it was that it kept me on edge, since we did not know if a case was settled until a day or two before the trial, so that made planning ahead a little difficult. But otherwise, it wasn’t too bad. I just hope I don’t ever have to see it from the other side of the law. Not that I am planning anything, of course.

I hope you all are well. Honk the car horn a few times for me.

Love, Steve

P.S. I also got a nice thank you letter from the judge. Does that happen in the big city?

World Bible School

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.