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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

The Chorus Jury


I finished up Jury duty today and actually got to get considered. I didn’t make the jury and I’m fine with that, I really needed to work this week, but I’m so happy to have gone through the experience. The jury room is a pretty amazing cross section of Chicago. People from all over the city and suburbs. All races. All religions. Many economic classes.

People need to have a license or be registered to vote and have a mailing address, so there are certainly people in Chicago who can’t serve.

Nobody expected me, a white woman from the north side, to be the person that said there was a murder in her family. I was worried about how much I would have to say, but all I had to say was…

Me: Twenty years ago my cousin was murdered. Judge: I’m so sorry for your loss. Was it a robbery? Me: It was a rape and murder. Judge: How old was your cousin. Me: Eight or nine years old. Judge: Was anyone arrested? Me: Yes. Judge: Was this in Cook County? Me: No. It was in Arkansas.

That was that. I also briefly explained ye olde “guy with a butcher knife” home invasion story.

Judge: Was anyone arrested? Me: No Judge: Does either the robbery or lack of arrest make you prejudice for or against either side? Me: No, sir.

Finally, it wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t gotten the word Twitter into the court record.

Prosecution: Where do you get your news? Me: I look at what friends share on Twitter and Google Reader, then NY Times and Chicago Tribune. Occasionally WBBM (only station that comes in on my radio shower).

Has a movie, play or book already been written about jury selection? I’m not talking about deliberation or courtroom drama – but the stories that get half told by people hoping to serve or get out of jury duty.

I imagine something like the Chorus Line… where the one line answer we give unfolds into the whole story.

How did the guy at the end of my row end up shot in the face?

Why did the suburban woman spend a night locked up?

Why did the man next to me need to tell his story of visiting jail to the judge in private?

A man reported that his wife stood next to her brother when he was murdered and she was not… how did she survive the guilt and why does the think she escaped unharmed?

All of those stories… boiled down to a sound bit to legally answer the judge, prosecution or defense. I want to hear them or make them up myself.

Also… nobody checks your I.D. at Jury duty. I guess nobody would go under false pretenses, but they assume that if you bring in a summons it is for you.

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