Jury Duty- The Empty Nester’s Exemption

Seriously District Court.  You must be kidding.  My birdies are home for a few more days and you want me to appear in court.  These were my thoughts when I got my Jury Summons.
I quickly flipped the card over and zoomed in on the exemptions. I scrutinized each possibility for my exit strategy.

  1. I’m not over 70 but if the ‘Time Thief’ I talked about in my last post doesn’t slow down, I will be before I know it.
  2. I wouldn’t be an empty nester if I still had a child under 12.  I lost this exemption when the form wasn’t altered to say 12 instead of 15.  They must have bulk ordered the forms.
  3. It’s been a long time since I was a high school student, although, when my children were in high school I think I was at the school more than  many of their less ambitious classmates.  I was a  ‘helpful’ parent.  ‘Helpful’ parent  sounds so much nicer than ‘helicopter’ parent.
  4. I was attending college last semester.  It was a Continuing Education class that met one night a week and I didn’t get a grade. Not exactly what the court system had in mind with this exemption but I gave it some thought.  I could quickly enroll in another class. That felt like cheating and a little extreme.  Alas, my overactive conscious (I curse that right-minded Cricket of childhood)  kept me from calling the local Junior College.

    Jiminy Cricket
    Image via Wikipedia
  5. I don’t work for the legislative branch of the government.  No exemption there.  If I worked for the government there would be an exemption for empty nesters with children home for the holidays.
  6. I’m not a primary caretaker for an invalid although I am a caretaker for people who, at times, act like invalids.  I’m a little bitter about taking out the trash even when I have able-body children home.
  7. I’m not in the military but I raised three teenagers so I’m familiar with domestic battle zones. Have you heard of the Smith family trash wars?

Where was the exemption for empty nesters?  I expected to read, ‘You may be excused from jury service if you are suffering from temporary NENS or Non-Empty Nest Syndrome.  It wasn’t there.

The following Monday I reported for jury duty.  For three hours I sat on the front row feeling sorry for myself.  I knew I would get chosen.  I’ve been summoned, without a valid exemption, five times and I have served four times.  The one time I didn’t serve, I was number 222 so the odds were good they wouldn’t pick  me.  They need twelve jurors and the two lawyers only get ten strikes each. On this  Monday I was one of the first twelve when they seated us  numerically.

When the lawyers were ready to announce their selections, I picked up my book.  I read little of my book during my hours at court because I was thinking about the time I was going to miss from my children while I served on the jury. I pulled my purse out from under the bench so I would be ready to make the move over to the jury box.  I made sure the lid was tight on the water bottle hidden in my purse.   Frequently called jurors learn that judges and lawyers spend lots of time doing lots of things that don’t involve the jury pool.  You need a good book and a water bottle.

The first name the judge called was someone sitting behind me.  That was strange.  They usually call in numerical order, but still, I didn’t doubt my fate.  It wasn’t until twelve people took their seats in the jury box that it sunk in.  I was off the hook.  I almost let out a shout of joy.  I was heading home and college girl was probably just waking up.

As I headed for the door, high-fiving the other freed candidates, it hit me.  I hadn’t been picked.  How could that be? I didn’t say anything controversial.  I didn’t really say anything at all.  What did the lawyers read into the general information on my juror card?  What made those other candidates better than me?  What’s wrong with me? My feelings were a little hurt.

And that odd thought process reminded me of  the ‘General Qualifications for Jury Service’.  Next time I’m called for service, I may just disqualify myself using #4. (see below)

And I'm not talking moral character

30 comments

  1. I think I’d say something like “Oh yeah, I’m familiar with this case, I read all about it”. Seems to be that would qualify you for instant expulsion from Jury Duty. If not, number 4 works for me too. LOL. (at least the sound mind part) 😉

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  2. This sound so familiar…
    I wasn’t picked either, although it didn’t bother me in the least…
    It was shocking how some people lie to get out of jury duty though. Humanity rocks, right?

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  3. Thanks for the good laugh this morning! I have been called three times for jury duty. Once, I was in Europe, the next time I was having a baby (delivery counts, I guess), and the latest happened to be a horrible snowstorm so it was cancelled. I am afraid I won’t get lucky if I am called for a fourth time so I will take your advice and bring my book and a bottled water!

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  4. Being in a totally different situation than you, I actually don’t mind jury duty. Courthouse is a fifteen minute walk from me, so it’s a shorter commute.

    That said, glad it didn’t cut into your family time!

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    • I don’t dislike the decision of guilty vs. not guilty as much as I dislike the sentencing. I personally can add hours to the process. People whisper about me as we leave. Thanks for reading.

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  5. That was really a lucky break, but of course you would still wonder why you weren’t selected! I can’t believe you’ve served 4 times. Great line about “domestic battle zones!” Glad you were able to spend more time with your daughter.

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  6. LOL!! Love this post!

    I’ve been called only twice. Once when the girls were still very small and the other just a year or two ago. I called into a recording the night before (as directed on my summons) and I was dismissed. Now, I fear they mystery keepers of the summons system may be saving up for my “Non Empty Nest Years.”

    Well, if so, I’ll be sure to have a water bottle and a good book.

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this – too funny.

    I remember (sometime around junior high) being told that this boy (who I didn’t like) wanted to ask me out. In the end it turned out to be just a rumor. The first thing I felt wasn’t relief (at hading avoided an uncomfortable situation), but rather annoyance (“So why the heck wouldn’t you want to go out with me, huh?! Do you really think you can do better than me?”)

    Your tale reminded me of that 😉

    Sidenote: The american jury-sythem has always intruiged me b/c it is not at all part of our German judicial systhem (well it is to a very slight degree, but that would make for a long post explaining it, so for all facts and matters it’s basically non-existent). I always wondered – would judgement by your peers be more or less legally right?

    In the course of my specilisation I took a lot of american (thus common -) law classes and the differences to the civil law I was raised with is so fundemental, it’s mind boggling at times – and yet we fall back on same / similar legal fundamentals.

    I guess it’s one of those: There’s more than one way to skin a cat things 😉

    Thanks for sharing

    🙂 K.

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  8. Great post!
    I have only been on a jury once – SIX WEEKS (not everyday of the six weeks, but still SIX weeks) of summer vacation (when I was teaching full-time). A woman suing 12 lawyers (by week two, I leaned over and said to one of my fellow jurors, “Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day?”)
    I was so jaded by the experience that I sound like a raving lunatic whenever I’m up for the selection process, hence, I haven’t been selected again. I sort of sound like that here.

    I’m glad you were not selected!

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