Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

The Cost of Civic Duty

The Cost of Civic Duty

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A few weeks ago I received a jury summons.  You know the drill.  As a citizen, you are expected be be part of the judicial system and appear when summoned for jury pools. In this case, I was summoned for Municipal Court. I thought that was a little odd.  I didn’t even know we had jury’s for Municipal Court.  Apparently we do.

So this morning I show up bright and early.  Myself and 30 others wait patiently for the clock to strike 7:58am so the officer can have us go through the metal detector.  The detector is turned up on super sensitive mode so everything comes out of the pockets.  Watch, jewelry, shoes, belt, you name it. 

Next, we head to the jury waiting room.  They have some nice coffee and ice water for everyone.  There’s just one problem.  After about 15-20 minutes, we get kicked out of the room because someone forgot to reserve it and it’s double booked.  I’m not sure how that happens.  We’re asked to go ahead and go upstairs to the court room.

We fill up the seats in the court room and hang out there for a while.  In comes this nice lady who proceeds to tell all about herself, the city, our city bond rating, how great the court system is, and why it’s important.  I agree with her.  I enjoy the rights and freedoms we hold dear.  She also emphasizes that this court has a rule that the parties must reach a plea 10 days before the court date, or the trial must happen.

After we go through all of the instructions, she reads off our juror numbers.  I’m number 12.  It means I have a pretty good chance of being a juror for this trial.  No big deal.  I’ve been a juror before and this isn’t going to be bad anyway.  This is a Muni court.  This isn’t going to be a criminal rape or murder case.  Thankfully.

We are asked to take a break, use the restrooms, etc.  The courthouse we’re in has WIFI access so I spend the next 30 minutes checking the news and piddling around.  Then comes the call for the potential jurors to huddle up.

We are informed the defendant decided to pay the fine and plead guilty.  We are told thank you for doing our duty and that we are dismissed.  We are not required to serve as jurors for another 2 years because although we weren’t used today, we are now exempt.

One of the citizens asked what the charge was that we were supposed to hear.  The lady answered, “Running a stop sign.”  Really?  Seriously?  Really!

I am all for a jury of your peers and the right to have a trial and your day in court, but really.  This ticket was extremely costly and I’m not talking about the fine from the city.  I actually wonder what the true cost is. 

Justice is an interesting thing.

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  • The guy has a right to a jury trial. See the Bill of Rights. It would have cost a lot more if they actually did have a trial.

    And some advice: Bring reading material when you're a juror, in case there is no Wifi or your battery dies.

  • Larry,

    I think you repeated what I said.  I am pro rights.

    People have a right to change their mind and apparently the person in this case did right at the last minute. It happens.  But there's a cost and the fine isn't covering the total cost to the community.

    As for the advice on reading materials, the battery on my reading device lasts 10 hours so I think I had that covered pretty well.