Civic Duty – A Comedy of Errors

Sorry to be so quiet today, but a few weeks ago I received a summons for jury duty. It wasn’t the first time. I’d been summoned three times before and served on one criminal trial. I filled out the form, as required, sent it back. A few days later I received another form. Jury summons. And I’m thinking yeah, yeah, a reminder. I’ll fill this one out too. Barely looked at it.

I see you all are waaay ahead of me.

That’s right. I had summons from two entirely different courts. The County Circuit Court, which was the only one I was familiar with—and the Federal District Court. And, of course, I realize this on the Saturday before the Monday I was due to report for BOTH. No way to contact the Circuit Clerk’s office now and get out of this mess. And my first thought was along the lines of—“Okay, would I rather be arrested by the Feds or the County for failure to appear?”

Fortunately I didn’t have to make that decision. Circuit Court requires you to appear the first day, but Federal Court’s automated message said to check back Monday night. So fine, I don’t have to be in two places at once, or at least not today. This morning we were all sworn in, and after the students, sole-proprietors, sole-caregivers and such were excused, I approached the bench and showed the judge my summons, which was interesting, but not a reason to be excused. “I can’t let you out…but, if you’re enpaneled for a jury today, the Federal Court will excuse you.”

So I sit and sweat it out while they assemble the Grand Jury…then Panel 1…then Panel 2, all the way through Panel 4. After two hours the Judge and Circuit Clerk confer. There’s a light docket, and that’s all the jurors they need. My name was not called, and they’re done. I am now officially excused!

Except, of course, since I was not enpaneled, I still have Jury Duty at the Federal Courthouse tomorrow.

Civic Duty. Got to love it.

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