Jury duty, the great equalizer

The old Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. Via Flickr user jimmywayne.

The old Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. Via Flickr user jimmywayne.

I went to my first jury duty ever Wednesday.

I arrived at the courthouse a few minutes before 8 a.m. Security guards promptly confiscated my camera and told me I could get it back once I left. Apparently, the justice system remains staunchly unaware that my smartphone, which the guards let me keep, is also a camera.

About 100 people were in a chair-lined room for jury duty, and for 20 minutes, we watched a video explaining “why Americans have always cared about jury duty.”

Maybe because if they don’t attend, they go to jail.

One of the striking aspects of jury duty is it is one of the few places where everyone congregates. I mean, everyone. It doesn’t matter your income level, profession, gender, race, orientation, age, or anything else (to an extent). All these people from all walks of life are suddenly thrust into a stuffy room with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

How many other places are there where such a diverse group of people is forced to mix?

Looking around the room at all the bored faces, I could see how different everyone was. Yet here we all were — in jury duty because we vote. Everybody’s eyes had the same glazed-over look.

It’s astounding how the practice of playing on your phone when you’re bored transcends race.

Jury duty is a gallery of all the people you didn’t know about and may never meet again, yet live in the same county as you. No matter who you are, you end up in a courthouse somewhere waiting in a room and hoping you aren’t called to serve on a jury.

They say death is the great equalizer — so is jury duty.

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6 comments
  1. Thomas Nuffan said:

    I got picked once, but if you can give a legit reason why you can not attend, they usually let you go. 🙂

    better luck next time.

    • I’ve gotten picked before, but I got out of it because I was a full-time student.

  2. mark said:

    One of the reasons that people of all kinds congregate together in a jury waiting room is that names are no longer pulled from the voter rolls. The complaint was that not enough minorities were on juries because they weren’t voting in relation to their numbers in the community. Federal laws compelled states to utilize DRIVERS LICENSE lists to compile their jury lists. That your dad has been called to jury service six times while I, for example, have only been called once goes to the utter incompetence of government. I hope that in your next post you relate your experience in the courtroom.

  3. From drivers licenses? I have not heard that, is that true?

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