07 February 2008

Civic Duty

I've always sorta believed that living in a participatory republican democracy is a bit of a gift, and not much is required of you to enjoy the fruits of doing so. There's paying taxes, of course. And voting, of course, though I tend to think of that as part of the gift, and not so much a duty, which is why I'm likely to mock people I discover don't vote.

Then there's serving on a jury.

In many ways, I think serving on a jury makes your voice even more powerful than casting a vote. When you vote, you're one among many, but when you're on a jury, you're one among a much smaller number, so your vote counts for a lot more.

I've been waiting to serve on a jury ever since I first came to New York seven years ago. Somehow, despite being registered to vote and having a drivers license in every place I've lived (at least since the age of 18), I've never, ever, been called to serve on a jury. Never even received a summons.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was, a couple months ago, to receive a "Jury Qualification Questionnaire" in the mail. Apparently it needed to be determined, first, if I was good enough to sit on a jury.

Being the good citizen I am, I didn't even waste time filling out the paper form; I got my ass online and filled it out there.

So here I am, weeks later, and I've been summoned for jury duty.

They've got WiFi access in the central waiting area, but they block "inappropriate" content. Blogger, oddly, is "inappropriate," so I'm left composing this entry in a text file for later upload. Who knew Blogger was seditious? Maybe they don't want people blogging about the experience of sitting in a room with a bunch of other people doing a b s o l u t e l y n o t h i n g.

I do have to admit, I'm beginning to understand why so many people find jury duty onerous. There's a lot of sitting around waiting, and they don't exactly get the day off to a roaring start. You're basically treated like a retard as a civil servant walks you through filling out a form with your social security number, your address and your employment information.

One. Line. At. A. Time.

So now I'm going to spend the rest of the day sitting around waiting to be called.

Interestingly, I didn't realize that they keep the currently serving jurors mixed in here with the potential jurors. There are scads of people lounging around here waiting for their day at trial to start.


So yeah. I sat around all day, waiting to be called. Didn't happen. I was released at the end of my first day, and now my jury duty has been done for the next eight years.

That was kinda freakin' anti-climactic.

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