Jury Duty is a fun thing, right? Well, I tried to avoid it since last December by putting it off and then forgetting about my date, then re-scheduling another date. I have gone through so many iterations of not knowing my duty date that I was beginning to wonder if I would get arrested for failure to show.

Yesterday, I finally showed and went to the court room in SF along with many other people who really wanted to be there also (uhm.. yeahh) I showed up at 9:30 AM and they showed everyone a video of how wonderful and great jury duty was. This was welcomed by snickers from some audience members and blank stares from others.

The video features several “prior jurors” who commented on their experience. Here’s what they had to say.

“I really enjoyed the experience and everyone bonded so much we decided to stay in touch long after jury duty.”

Ok, call me crazy but I don’t see jury duty as a friendly meet-n-greet for strangers of all types.

“We don’t want professional jurors, we want every day people?”

Professional jurors?! Where are these people? Do people have nothing else to do other than serve on jury duty?

“It was a very easy process. I brought a book so it was ok.”

Great, I didn’t bring a book! A quick look around the room shows the experienced pros brought everything including a crossword puzzle, laptop, book, work, art sketches, etc. We would all wait another hour before anything happened.

After the long wait a judge arrives and introduces us to the process. She instructs us that many people here will want exemptions from their service. (How did she guess that one? The video just showed us all how wonderful this experience would be.) She says that “hardship exemptions” are only given for one of the following:

  • Your employment is your only form of income.
  • You are in school and cannot be excused for service.
  • Confirmed and ticketed business trips.

She informs us that reasons such as child care or senior care are not acceptable reasons to be excused. She also mentions something interesting, “All documents here will become public record so if you want to provide a reason but not write it down, just say you want to talk with us.” Interesting to know; maybe you’re a pimp and don’t want to put that down on paper for public record.

I wrote that both (1) my job is my only form of income and my employer would not reimburse me for time off, and (2) I am in school and could not get time off. Both are entirely true and I was one of the first people excused from service.

It was an interesting process but made me start to think. Ok, the people who serve for jury duty have a few qualities:

  • They have no job or one where they can not work for months at a time (some trials take that long)
  • Married women People with no kids and no other reason to excuse themselves
  • and the stated professional juror (who is this? Retired persons who need cheap entertainment?)

Update: Schneier says, new method in identity theft! “Identity thieves trick the unwary into revealing their personal details by telling them they’ve failed to report for jury duty and warrants for their arrest are being issued.”