Hooray! After a long day in the federal courthouse in Concord the verdict is in… I am dismissed from the remainder of my jury service! This is the best result we could have hoped for.
Today started nice and early with a 6:15 departure from Hampton. Thank you again to Darren and Katie for letting me borrow a vehicle! I left an extra 45 minutes for traffic and any trouble parking in Concord. As always when you leave plenty of time you don’t need it. I arrived over half an hour early and checked in with the Jury administrator. We talked briefly again regarding my situation and she confirmed that if I ended up serving for this case that I could be dismissed from the remainder of the 2 month jury term. It was still up in the air what could happen if I did not get selected. All checked in, a card with my name on it was added to the basket so I could be selected.
As the jurors continued to trickle in the jury assembly room slowly started to fill up. Soon there were more than 50 of us. We got to watch Good Morning America and gripe to each other about how we would rather be somewhere else. At 8 o’clock sharp our scheduled start time we continued waiting…and waiting…and waiting. Around 8:45 the jury administrator stood up and gave an orientation speech that she had clearly given before. We were now ready to begin the Jury selection process. We were all set and went upstairs to the courtroom. Here we were introduced to the parties involved. The judge then gave a brief overview of what the case was about and told us that the case was going to last approximately one week and would begin on Monday September 10th. The case involved
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXTHIS SECTION DELETED BY US FEDERAL CENSORSHIP BUREAU XXXXXXXXXXXXXX Then the judge asked a series of questions called “voir dire” (pronounced (vwar dear) sounds a lot like “raw deer” when the judge says it fast). They were designed to determine if the jurors had any biases before selection. We each had a little card and golf pencil to write down any questions that we answered “yes” to in our heads.
Next on to the very stressful part, the deputy began pulling juror names out of the basket. One by one the 18 seats in the Jury box began to fill up. I still couldn’t decide if I really wanted to be selected for a one week trial or not. On one hand I would know that I was finished…but on the other with the documentation regarding our trip and plans, along with the letter we worked so hard to write I may be able to be excused anyway. Regardless of my indecision I was selected as juror number 18. The last seat was filled by…me. I joined the 17 forlorn souls already trapped in the jury box and the remainder of the jury pool breathed a collective sigh of relief. Too early for them though, we now pulled out those little cards and golf pencils and each of the 18 selected had to go up to the judge and discuss anything written there during the “voir dire” process. Each time the judge decided that someone was too biased to serve, or the person made a strong enough case of personal hardship (hardship usually only got the juror deferred to a later date) the juror moved to the back of the room and the deputy pulled a new name out of the hat to fill the newly vacated seat in the juror box. This took a long long long long…..long long time. I had answered yes to a couple of the questions, and I got my turn to walk slowly across the large courtroom up to the bench and speak with the judge, with all the attorneys crowded close to me to hear my answers. I was determined to be a qualified juror and I returned to seat 18.
The next step was the paring down of the jury from 18 to 12. The prosecution and the defense each selected 3 jurors to be “peremptory challenged”. During this process each side can throw a juror out for any reason, or for no reason at all. Those jurors are removed from the jury box and sent to the back of the courtroom to stay with those too biased to serve. The first name called was mine! I quickly stood up and got out of the box, heading to the back of the courtroom.
I had barely reached the back of the courtroom by the time the 12 still in the box were required to stand and swear themselves in for the case. The 40 jurors not selected and the 6 of us who were “peremptory challenged” all headed back down to the juror assembly room. I had to wait while the jury administrator took care of some issues with the other jurors regarding their next reporting date, and then she wrote a letter excusing me from the remainder of my service! Hooray! It feels good to have our fate back in our own hands. It looks like we will have an excellent weather window for making our way back south opening up on Monday, so we are going to spend a little time in the Portsmouth area before heading back south of Cape Cod.