So Worldbuilders wrapped up yesterday. While we still have a lot of work to do, assigning and shipping out prizes over the next couple weeks, there was a general sense of exhausted triumph in the air.
I won’t lie to you, it’s a lot of work making worldbuilders happen. It’s exhausting at times. But y’all made things worth it by stepping up and helping us raise more than I’d ever thought possible this year. I’ll do an official recap about the whole experience in just a couple of days.
Anyway, since Worldbuilders was done on the 7th, I celebrated by reporting for jury duty on the 8th.
I’ve never been called for jury duty before, and while I’m busy these days, I’ll admit that I was looking forward to it. For those of you who haven’t guessed, curiosity is one of my driving forces, and I really wanted to see what a jury trial was like. I’ve never seen any sort of trial, actually. I probably know more about the Renaissance legal system than the current one here in the US.
So no matter what happened, it was going to be news to me. So I got up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 so I could be at the courthouse at 8:00.
The first thing that I learned is that not all juries have 12 people in them. You can have a 6 person jury too. That’s the sort of jury they were going to use for this case.
What happens is this: They pick a bunch of jurors at random from a pool. Then those people have to show up at the courthouse. From that pool of potential jurors, they chose 12 of us, knowing that they’re going to pare that down to 6.
My name was the second name picked. So the second thing I learned is that the chairs in the jury box are really comfy.
Next they ask you questions to make sure that you can be a good juror. These were fairly straightforward. Do you know the plaintiff? Do you know either of the lawyers? Have any of you ever been to court? If so, do you think you were treated fairly?
They didn’t ask us these individually. They asked us as a group. It was rather casual, actually.
When the defense lawyer asked, “Is everyone here familiar with a person’s right to defend himself?” Everyone kinda nodded along.
(I’m paraphrasing here, the quotes are meant to indicate dialogue, not a verbatim transcript of the exact words said.)
I raised my hand and said, “I’m familiar with the *concept* of a person’s right to defend themselves,” I said. “In general moral terms. But I don’t know anything about a person’s *legal* right to defend themselves.”
The defense lawyer nodded and said, “That’s an important distinction.”
Then the other lawyer said to the judge, “Can we have a sidebar on this issue?”
The judge agreed.
The third thing I learned is that having a sidebar is when the lawers go up and talk to the judge privately.
That was pretty much it for the questions. They lawyers got to take turns crossing off members of the jury. It’s like the reverse of getting picked to be on someone’s team. You don’t get picked, you get un-picked.
I got unpicked.
I will admit, I felt a little snubbed. A little disappointed. I was looking forward to seeing the trial and doing my thing as a responsible citizen, being a vital part of the legal system.
I tried not to take it personally, either. I know that they had to cut 6 of us anyway. Statistically, it was a 50/50 shot.
And honestly, if I were a lawyer, I probably wouldn’t want me on a jury. Not only do I look like a hobo, but I overthink and tend to ask questions like, “What you you mean when you use the word ‘mean’?”
Nobody wants to deal with that. Nobody wants to be a part of the Stevens Point amateur production of “Six Angry Men.”
All in all, I was out of the courthouse by 9:15. And since I had my day free, I went and had pancakes.
So you see, the story had a happy ending.
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Also, for those of you in the area, I’m going to be doing a reading/signing/Q&A in Wisconsin Rapids tonight at 7:00. I think I’m going to be reading a piece of the new novella, just to see how it sounds out loud…
Details, as always, are on the tour page…