My morning as a potential juror

While I was in Seattle I got a jury summons by mail here in Pittsburgh.  It’s my first summons in Pittsburgh.  I’ve been summoned before in other towns, but each time I’ve called the night before, my number didn’t come up.

Well this time it did. 

I got up all early and bused down to the City County Building.  That’s for civil trials.  The courthouse next door is for criminal trials.

It was a pleasant experience.  A nice lady named Angel guided us around and through the process.  Judge James was very charismatic and friendly.  I looked forward to participating.

But they needed a commitment of up to a few weeks.  And I have a journal article due in two weeks, not to mention 3 courses.  So they put me in the “have time conflicts” box and eventually brought me up to reschedule.  The lady had the calendars printed out for each area school.  I told her CMU and she referred to the row highlighting the end of the semester.  “October 13?”  “Did you say October?”  “Yes, that’s the end of your semester?”  “No, I think that’s the end of the minis.  Does it say ‘mini’?”  “Yeah…”  “Those are half-semester courses.  The semester ends in December.”  “I wish they’d all get their academic terminology in common.”

Then she said I could go.  “Could I have done this online?”  “Yes, sure.  Or by phone.”  So… if you have a commitment, call instead and save yourself the trip.  I would have called but I misunderstood the stated “one day / one trial” policy on the mailing.  I thought that meant I was in some pool for one-day trials and I figured today would be as good a day as any.

If I had known, I would have just gone online to postpone.  In the end though, it was an interesting experience.  I love seeing the full cross-section of the city.  Licensed voters and drivers, at least.  (The judge said they’re getting other sources of names too and intend to get everyone in.)  You don’t get to see full cross-sections much in Pittsburgh.  That’s something I still miss about the BART in the Bay Area, you’d see both crack heads and people on their way to the opera.  I got to rub elbows with a slice of Pittsburgh I don’t normally get to.  Though there was a CMU prof there I recognized.  I wonder if one CMU student and one CMU faculty there today do in fact reflect the local demographics?

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