It was thanksgiving week, 2011. Around that time an incident happened. Because of that event, and subsequent events that occurred as time went by, I received a rather large postcard with the word JUROR spread across it in big red letters.

juror1

I had been put on a draft list, I was being told that I was to report to the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida on Monday, June 10th. There was a questionnaire to fill out. There was also an excuse section were, if one wanted to do so, they could try and come up with an excuse not to be picked to serve on the jury.

This was not the first time I had found one of these forms sitting in my mailbox. I always had a legitimate excuse for not finding myself in rush hour traffic heading downtown to the 27 story obelisk known as the Orange County Fl Courthouse.

occh

My main excuse was that, as a long haul truck driver in most cases or due to other occupations I held over the 30 plus years in Florida, I was either going to be out of town during the period for when I was to report or there were other factors that made it to where I was released from jury duty.

I could have told a little fib and use these same excuses yet again. I am no longer a long haul truck driver and I also was not in a position where I would be out of town on the day I was to report.

That was, until about the 5th of June when I was given the opportunity to make a trip with an associate that I have taken on a number of occasions that had me leaving on the  Sunday before the day I was scheduled to report and not returning until 3 or more days later.

As tempting as it was to accept the offer of a free all expenses paid trip out of town, I decided to skip this offer and report to the courthouse for Jury Duty.

downtown

As a result, on June 10th, 2013 at around 8:15 am I found myself strapped into the drivers seat of my pick up truck creeping down the South Orange Blossom trail in Orlando rather than in the front seat of a Beechcraft Baron on my way to a rather large city in the Midwest.

After the 45 minute, 7 mile drive, I arrived at the 8 story parking garage adjacent to the courthouse removing the credit card sized parking ticket from its dispenser and then driving around in circles looking for a parking space, which I did, that morning midway through the 6th level.

After a bit of a long walk and as well as an elevator ride, I found myself in a line with around 900 people reserved for perspective jurors waiting to go through a security process similar to that of an airport.

room180

A few minutes later, I found myself in a large room with a thousand other people waiting to see what fate lies before them.

jurorroom

The first thing one does is to get in one of several lines and then, one by one, my contemporaries and I worked our way to a counter where the person on the other side took the JUROR post card from us along with the parking ticket. The parking ticket was stamped and handed back to me, assuring me that I would not have to pay the $15.oo fee provided I did not lose the thing.

The person behind the counter also removed a small section of the postcard that was about the size of a credit card. On it was the word JUROR, a bar code and a three digit number. It was at this point that I was told to go sit down and watch a video that was being shown on various monitors spread throughout the room.

I found myself in familiar territory. It was a few short years ago that a briefing was held for members of the media who were credentialed to cover the trial of Casey Anthony.

The video was made by the court administration to inform all of us what we were in for and how much, if anything, we were going to get paid for spending most of the day sitting in this room reading out dated newspapers, checking text messages or various internet sites on our laptops, tablets or smartphones.

A few of those  among us wound up on the rather ancient pc’s in the jurors internet cafe that was a glassed walled room containing about 2o of these outdated contraptions where we waited for instructions to be announced over the pa system.

After the video, ending with a brief message from Chief Judge Belvin Perry, who had also presided over the Casey Anthony trial, a rather pleasant woman got behind a podium and started to brief us about what was ahead for us. The style of her presentation was akin to someone who might be auditioning to be a stand up comic. She did a rather good job of lightening up the mood in the room of those of us who at the vary least was going to be spending the better part of the day hanging around this big room with each other waiting to learn our fate.

The wait was not long for the words that would become quite familiar as the morning wore on came booming out of the roof mounted pa speakers ” when you hear your number called, form two lines in front of the podium.”

After this group lined up, there was a roll call to make certain that all those who were called were present and accounted for. It was at this point that the jurors would learn what courtroom to report to and who the judge was.

In a few short minutes, 50 of my new found associates were led off like cattle through the large brown wood doors at the end of the hall not to be seen again.

Two more groups would be called and then led off into oblivion before the group of 50 that included Juror 136 would find themselves calling out their new identity as the roll call progressed. After a brief set of instructions we all filed, one by one through the large set of wooden doors to begin our long journey through the judicial process.

To be continued:

Stay tuned

MURT

Advertisements