Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tales from the Jury Pool

If you came for knitting, move along. There's no yarn or knitting talk around here.

Today was a harrowing day for me. I was required to report to the Alameda County Courthouse at 8:30 this morning. So I packed my backpack last night and went to bed early. While laying in bed, it occurred to me that I may not be able to bring knitting needles into the courthouse. And since I was taking public transportation, I would have issues as to what to do with my knitting if it wasn't allowed inside. So I got out of bed and double checked the summons. Sure enough, knitting needles were specifically banned. Nuts.

But that's OK. I had an ipod with tons of podcasts, The Red Tent, and my school work to keep me busy as I while away the hours. I get to the courthouse and checked in with no problems. There was orientation and I was called to a specific courtroom. I still wasn't panicked because about 80 other people were called up there with me. I'm thinking, "no sweat! I can totally talk my way out of this. They probably won't even get to me."

Once we were all seated in the courtroom and the judge went through the "no one knows any of the lawyers" bit, the complaint was read. The two defendants in this particular case are accused of burglary, rape, and murder. WTF?!?!?! I was thinking DUI or petty theft. But the big M! Yikes! My hands literally started to shake and I started to sweat. I was alternately thinking, "I can't do this." And, "how cool is this."

Then the judge dropped the hammer. The trial will likely last half of February and the entire month of March. OK- now I'm really sweating. I would literally have to drop out of school to be a juror in this case. I was having visions of graduation slipping away. And then I started thinking about all the loan money. Sweating profusely at this point. UGH!

We were instructed to go downstairs, fill out a questionnaire and we would get called back another day for individual questioning. Apparently they are interviewing around 240 jurors to get the 16 they need. We were also told that we could also fill out an "undue hardship" form. However, the judge was really clear he has a very narrow view of undue hardship and would not be accepting very many. But we would be able to come back at 1:30 to state our cases. UGH! Downstairs I went and laid it on pretty thick on both my forms. My first degree is in legal theory. My sister is a lawyer who worked for a D.A.'s office. I love cops and all people who are associated with law enforcement.

During lunch I practiced my speech- trying to remember key phrases. Intensive program. Clinical hours. No make-up days. Board of Registered Nursing requirements. No graduation. No job. No income. Financial ruin. Divorce. Alcoholism. Homelessness. Shame on my family name.

At 1:30, my heart was beating so hard that my flimsy juror badge was shaking on my shirt. Out comes the bailiff and reads a short list of names that includes me. Here it is. Moment of truth. We go in and the judge rechecks the names on the list. Tension is building. You could tell we were all preparing to fight. Then, he says those two magical words. "You're excused." The rest of the people in the hall would have to stay and fight. I felt bad walking out past them in my haze of happiness and relief.

I was surprised everyone held it together until we got into the hall. Once we all were in the elevator someone mentioned margarita time! Phew! I dodged a HUGE bullet. Can you imagine if I had to come home and deal with waiting for jury selection? I would have been a mess worrying I may not graduate. Seriously, I'm getting sweaty now just thinking about it.

Good thing I could channel all that nervous energy into cleaning the house. I even shampooed part of the carpet.

And I finished The Red Tent. So amazing. More on that tomorrow. But if you haven't read it, get your hands on a copy now. Now I really should do some homework.


Blogger Camille said...

I love The Red Tent. Did you see at The Loopy Ewe, there's a colorway called The Red Tent. I wanted to buy it and knit while listening to the book. That book is probably my favorite. I could read it over and over again.

8:07 PM  
Blogger rohanknitter said...

Phew! You must have been really worried. Would they really make some one drop out of school to be a juror? Yikes.
My dh had jury duty last year - he ended up on a coroner's jury. It was nice in that it was a one-day thing, but the whole thing creeped him out.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Queen of the froggers said...

Well done for surviving the Jury service!

12:14 AM  
Blogger Lovs2Knit said...

Glad to here you dodged the bullet. You've worked too hard to have it all fall apart now.

1:42 AM  
Blogger KnittingMoose said...

Oh thank goodness you didn't have to stay! I am relieved FOR you!

4:29 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Congratulations - that's one thing I wouldn't have to worry about being an ex-pat. Until I become and American they won't have me. They probably wouldn't have me if I was either because DH is an attorney.

5:13 AM  
Blogger chemgrrl said...

Oh man, I've never been called for jury duty, but CRAP! How lucky you were to get out of it. And how nervewracking! Yikes!

8:25 AM  
Blogger Marisol said...

Very funny! So glad you got off!

Wasn't the Red Tent Good!

9:15 AM  
Blogger peaknits said...

I have always thought being opn a jury could be cool - but a month and a half - lost it's allure entirely. I am still awaiting my Red Tent copy from PB Swap - I will put it on the top of the pile after your vehement recommendations!:) Thank you!

4:42 PM  
Blogger Knitting Kris said...

I had jury duty selection - where they do excuse all college students. I only got one trial (we spent 2 days picking jurors for trials), and the trial lasted only a half day. On the two jury selection days, I did take in wooden knitting needles and knit a sweater (child-size) in the round.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Morticcia said...

I must have a jury duty magnet as I get called up every three years. Lucky for you they let you go.

I wonder if banning knitting needles is a regional thing or just a new thing for the court system now that it's gotten so popular. I knit during my selection process about three (yikes!) years ago in Cambridge, Mass. Hmm...

11:44 AM  

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