Monday, February 9, 2009
My number was 359. The Circuit Court called jurors 001-750. I was hoping the Water Main Break on Calvert St. would've shut down some action in the courtroom today. But of course not.
I was standing on St.Paul in front of the Clarence M Mitchell Jr. Courthouse at 8:15 a.m. My sister had dropped me off because I would be damned if I was catching the crazy MTA after driving for almost 3 years. I brought all of my text books with me like a dummy, thinking that I would get some homework done at least.
Upon entry I managed to set off the metal detector alarm approximately five times.
When I went into the jury assembly room for orientation I sat next to the one person with the "gift of gab". No matter how much I stared at my text book, the conversation never ceased. Then entered the token angry man who is never pleased that he was summoned to jury duty.
"Man look at all these people in here man it's too early in the got damn morning for this shit!" he said.
I was finally relieved when I received my 15 bucks.
Since my number was so low of course I was amongst the second batch of jurors to be selected for a case. About 80 of us scrambled into a court room that made us sit too close for comfort. We were assisted by court room clerks who made us count off to assure that everyone was present (which made me realize that a lot of people in Baltimore can't count, including myself).
The judge began to ask questions to see who qualified for striking, and I realized there is always one individual who must stand up for everything. This person has been a victim of a crime, is bias toward the nature of the case, has a financial, physical, AND mental hardship, and works for the attorney serving the defendant. Really though?
Well I only had one hardship...I'm a full time student.
"Writing For New Media can be missed for this 3-day trial, in fact you can blog about this as an experience." said the judge.
Not a bad idea actually.
Once I convinced the judge that I couldn't be imprisoned for the next 3 days, I realized I had missed 30 minutes of lunch. I quickly walked to the Subway down the street only to be greeted with a long line of hungry jurors on the hunt for a munch just as I was.
After finally receiving and eating my overly toasted sandwich, extra salty chips, and air dry cookies, I returned to the Courthouse only to be harassed by the security officer.
"What is all this stuff that you have in this bag?" he said with a grunt as he searched my purse.
"Our ancestors back in the slavery era paid the price so we didn't have to carry all of these things..." then he turned to the woman who had just been checked and decided to include her in the conversation. "If people were smart they would know that." he said with a laugh.
"Are you calling me stupid?" I asked.
"No young lady, that is NOT what I said" he explained with an irritated tone. Then he proceeded to repeat himself but I cut that short and walked away with my things.
After returning to the assembly room at 1:45 p.m., I finally gave up on any hopes of getting homework done and took a nap. I was awakened by the sound of chains clanking in the hallway. I looked up to see hand cuffed men being guided by police officers, staring me straight in the eyes. I immediately put my head back down and prayed to be called for another case in a courtroom far away from wherever those men were going.
After two long hours and never being called for another case, one of the clerks finally announced in a monotone that we were dismissed.
Next time the City of Baltimore wants me to show my face Downtown, they better be offering 20 bucks...