Waking Up Earley

Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

The Verdict

I walked into the Skokie location of the Cook County Court juror room behind a man who was about 63 years old, very fit, carrying a book called Elizabeth is Missing. I walked in lugging my red book bag loaded with four books, nine Christian Century magazines, 20 photocopied pages of scholarly commentary on the text for my sermon, a set of notecards, the church directory, a list of people who volunteered at the rummage sale, and my computer. I also had a wallet full of change for the vending machines, a cup of coffee, and a sweater. He looked like he was there to do jury duty. I looked like I was moving in, or at lease prepared to be marooned in eight feet of snow. He was an early retiree, I decided. He had the leisure to just read a book. I had real work to do.

A lanky white man in a pair of Dockers and a golf shirt carried his weathered brief case into one of the glassed-in “quiet rooms” equipped with a conference table and chalkboard. I raised an eyebrow when he obeyed the announcement to come out of his exile for the instructions from the jury attendant. He looked like the type who would consider himself exempt.

Though talking was allowed in the main room, my typing click-clacked like stiletto heels on the stone floor of an empty church. From behind my pile of work projects I couldn’t believe that no one was taking the time to get to know each other. Surely that would be better than playing games on their smart phones.

We were dismissed at 12:30 PM without a single jury panel being called. One case was pled, another requested a bench trial and the third the parties reached a settlement. Bummer. I would have enjoyed sitting in judgment of my peers. I’d be good at it.

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11 Comments

  1. Just curious, why were you too busy to initiate conversation.

  2. did you remember to pick up your check?

  3. Erin P. Gosser

    June 28, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Such good people judging…er…watching.

  4. It’s my experience that not much talking goes on in the room before selection, but once you have been assigned to a jury, the talking begins. I surmise this is the case because no one wants to start investing in a relationship until they are sure their part of a group who will be together for a while. I was part of a jury whose case took one week. We did a lot of talking and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The judge thought we had an unusually good group because a competent leader emerged in the group and was able to keep us on track and come to a unanimous decision without any fighting or people just voted by so we could get out of there. We retired people can enjoy our jury service because we have the time. Sometimes I wish I could get called again. I wonder how things will be different here in Denver.

  5. This was great Melissa! Really enjoyed this piece.

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