Jury duty is dreaded and avoided by all. A civic duty that our justice system is blessed with, but an inconvenience to most. So what is jury duty like in California when in a pandemic? Let me tell you.
You get your jury summons in the mail, telling you your assigned group, date, and time. Depending on your group number, you either are required to come in person for a half day or you are on-call for the week. I was in group 2, summoned to come in on a Monday from 8:30 to 1:00. The day of the actual civil service you get in a line outside where they ask you about COVID symptoms and reason for entering the Courthouse. Only people with special permission were allowed to actually enter the building since they were legally only allowed 30% capacity of the building. Once you have entered the building and gone through security you are directed to a large room designated as jury services. Inside this room, each seat is assigned numbers and spaced out equally from each other. These numbers are labeled as AM or PM depending on the session you were there for. Orientation starts after 30 minutes and a case is called. Another hour passes and another case is called. I took a nap, waiting for “Victoria Coscarelli” to be announced over the speaker. At 11:00 am, it happened. I walked through the designated circular flow path to court room 10. The bailiff escorted myself and the other 20 called jurors into the large room where we were equally spaced out once again. The judge introduced himself, and introduced the rest of the lawyers and staff in the room. After this, his first question for us was if any of us qualified to be excused or dismissed from the case. Myself and 3 others stood up and explained our situations. As a full time student, I couldn’t commit to the amount of time required for the case they wanted me on. The judge continues his questions trying to figure out if my university excuse was a good enough reason to be dismissed. After 5 minutes of prodding and explaining, he excused myself and the 3 others, letting us go for the day. We walked back to the jury services room where the staff informed us our session was done, and we fulfilled our services for the year.
I have been called 3 times since I was 18 for jury duty. I have no idea why this is the case, since I have never actually been chosen for a case. But this time was the easiest, most chill time I’ve been. Short and sweet, if there’s one good thing that’s come from the pandemic it’s that it has made the act of jury duty a breeze.