I’d never been called for jury duty until this week. I always found it frustrating when friends and co-workers got selected and ducked out of it, getting their employers to write letters insisting they were invaluable and couldn’t be spared. Didn’t they want to do their civic duty? And, more excitingly, didn’t they want to sit in on an actual criminal trial? See what really went on? Glean that insight into society and the justice system?
Now I get it. Like most of the people who rolled up to Wellington District Court on Monday morning I didn’t actually do any civic duty or glean any insights. What most of us got to do was sit in a room on the third floor of the building, waiting. For hours. We got to do the same thing on Wednesday. Thursday was actually pretty quick. We only waited around for about an hour. Fortunately I wasn’t part of the cohort that got balloted on Wednesday and waited around all day for a trial that got cancelled.
A couple of weeks ago I thought the guy who a judge found in contempt for refusing to serve on a jury sounded like a douche-bag. Now I kinda see his point. The process does seem designed to inconvenience you as much as possible. Will you be called to appear at court the next day? They don’t tell you until after six o’clock when its too late to reschedule anything. If you appear and aren’t balloted can you just leave and go on with your day? Well, on Thursday we did, but on Wednesday they kept us at the court for an extra two hours for no apparent reason. Could I pick up my daughter from creche if I was selected for a jury? What time would the court adjourn for the day? Should my wife cancel all her late meetings so she could do it? No way to know. When would I know? No way to know that, either. That’s the magic of jury duty!