Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Day in Court

A little over a month ago I received a summons to attend the local State Court for Jury service.

Since I had to be at the court by 8:30am I knew it would be awkward. I live 70 miles from the court and obviously can't drive.

My solution when the notice to actually attend was to take the train to the Amtrak Station nearest the court. Our local Amtrak is only forty miles away, and the train left at 6:10am. So my wife was enrolled to drive me to the station. For us both it was a 4am start.

I paid my fare only $4.75 at that time in the morning. The train ran on time. Though there was one woman who complained all the way that she could not smoke and that some Blind man had sat in HER seat. Being an empty seat when I got on, I sat in it. It was marked for disabled users, and this woman was no where in the compartment when I boarded.

I got off the train at the other end, by this time the woman was silent. This was because she obviously now had a cigarette in her mouth. I grew up with a mother who smoked. Cigarette smoke never bothered me then, today it makes me nauseous at the first breath.

I made my way to the courthouse. Arriving at about 7am. The doors to the Jury Assembly room opened at 7:45am. It was a relief to get into the warm room after sitting outside in temeperatures just above 30 degrees.

During the next hour the room filled with about 150 people. Names were called and people moved off to various courtrooms.

My name was called early. We had to answer a questionairre before the selection. This was a major problem for me, but one of the court supervisors helped me. Then after filling in the questionairre those jurors were taken to an adjacent building. I had special help from the court supervisor who had helped me to fill in the form. We had to cross a couple of streets and then make our way through security. That part particularly worried me, my cane being hollow and would it be designated a potential weapon?  Luckily it wasn't.

After entering, believe it or not we just sat for about three hours. Talking about stuff like the weather. Then just about lunchtime we were called. Told that the case had been settled out of court and dismissed, deemed to have served for the purpose of being recused for twelve months.

If you can get to a courthouse. Try serving on a jury. Being Blind does not exempt you from serving your community and country, unless you want to refuse that is.