A few weeks back I got a jury summons in the mail. I groaned, it was set for Aug 12th. I wondered, could it possibly interfere with my moto trip to Taos on August 30th? I thought, what are the chances I’ll actually get chosen and if I do, that it will go longer than a week? So, I showed up at 8:30 with a good book and some snacks. I was surprised to see around 200 people in the room. They looked as tired and annoyed as I was by the woman’s bubbly voice on the loudspeaker, telling us all what a privilege it was to be chosen for jury duty. I stared at the woman across from me with her chin on her chest, lightly snoring and was pretty sure she did not feel privileged to be there either. But with around 200 people and only 12 needed for a jury, I was feeling pretty confident I’d get out of it. That is, until I heard my name called. I thought, okay–I’ll be here for the rest of the day and do my time. Maybe I’ll even get called in for two days, at most it will be a nice break from work.
This is when I became a bit more educated about jury duty and what is involved. The Honorable Judy Reardon came in to address us, the 160 people who’s names got called. He told us a very brief overview of what the case was about–it was a criminal case. I started to feel dread creep in when he posted two large calendars on the wall. One for August and one for September. Both showed all the days we could expect to be serving. The calendar showed us booked until the end of September with the exception of Fridays. My heart sank, my face went pale, my stomach turned. I realized then I would have to cancel my Taos trip. The one I’ve been planning so many months, my maiden voyage, the one I started this blog for. My mind was racing wondering how to get out of it but I knew I could never commit perjury. I would have to just do it.
Then a woman stood up and addressed the judge, “I have a vacation planned, what should I do”? I thought to myself, silly woman, he’ll never excuse you for a vacation. He did, in fact, say; “it’s likely you will not get excused for a vacation, but you can fill out a hardship form and I’ll read them over during lunch, then we’ll reconvene at 1:30 and I’ll give you my decision. It was my only chance, so I also filled out a hardship form. I felt a little guilty since there were probably others with much better reasons than mine to claim a hardship but I had to try. I filled my form out, listing all the reasons such as; I’ve already booked hotels and paid in advance on some of them, as a motorcyclist, weather plays a crucial part in when I plan to go. Too late in the year and I may see snow in the mountains. My leather pants just won’t look right after Labor Day. You get the idea. I turned in my form, then waited until 1:30 to hear what Judge Reardon had to say.
At 1:30 we were called into Judge Reardon’s court room with about 75 other hardship claimers all looking desperate. It was a little stuffy and smelled like varnished wood, old books and armpits. The American flag hung beautifully behind the judges bench. I tried to remember the last time I was in a court room. That speeding ticket in Reno? Yes, I think so. That ticket was so lame–doubled for a construction zone at midnight when there were no workers in the construction zone. Suddenly my mind was snapped back to the present when the Judge called my name for roll call. HERE! *raising my hand high*. I expected he might make us go up to the witness stand and explain in detail of why we couldn’t be jurors…cross examined by the public defender yelling at us and hammering down the gavel. Okay, not really but I thought at least we’d have to explain ourselves. The judge simply looked at all of us with a big grin and said, “your all excused and free to go”. I thought we all might run up to hug him just then, but instead we all said a big “THANK YOU” in stereo and walked out feeling a oneness with each other for getting to carry on with our lives. So, I thank you, Judge Reardon, and so does Gypsy. Taos, here we come!