Trials and Tribulations – Mamarazzi has Jury Duty

Have you received a Jury Summons, and realized this is it because the excuses you used in the past are no longer valid? You open the thick official looking envelop and read: “You are here by summoned by the court …” and you get that sinking feeling, you know, the one that feels like you’ve just been arrested and have to go to jail without passing go or collecting $200? 

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For me, a stay-at-home mother of two legally minor children, the sense of dread which accompanies the arrival of each of these letters is overwhelming – in fact, it is downright maddening! I’m sure I’m not alone feeling like the government just won’t stop pursuing me, and it seemed like I was having to pull one of these envelopes from my mailbox at least once a month. But, just as easily as they arrived, I quickly dealt with them by filling out the “request for excuse” section thinking that since I’m the primary caregiver of my two young teenagers this would work again. I’d pop that thing right back where it came from, and continue merrily with my family’s normal hectic routine.


On this day, however, the envelope in my post was even thicker, and my stomach did a somersault as I tore that thing open and started to read: “The judge has denied your request …” Oh, no! What happened? I wrote the same thing as I had done in the last forty-nine summonses I’d received. Did some law change that I’m not aware of?  The first thoughts running through my head were the inconvenience of having to arrange the twenty or so carpools for my kids to get home from school and to their after school activities for one week. Ah, yes, I forgot to tell you. The judge included a shorter personal letter informing me of the courts’ decision to allow me to serve “one (1) week or one (1) trial” instead of the usual 30 days a normal person has to be on-call for jury duty.


What did all this mean? I couldn't’t wrap my brain around this one at all. I have two kids who depend on me for everything. Sure, they’re 13 and 16, but does this mean the government is telling me they are old enough to be left at home to make their way out the door to school, and back home every day for (lucky me) one week? I had a real issue with this, so I just had to find out what “the court” thought a responsible parent was expected to do in this situation (don’t hold your breath for what you think will be a logical response, it’s not).


I called the phone number at the bottom of the letter, and low and behold, a real person answerd the phone at the clerk’s office.  I proceeded to explain my situation, and of course, I didn't get any sympathy from the obviously overwhelmed bureaucrat. Though her voice was kind, the only advice she offered was a postponement. Oh, that’ll work! I thought. I’ll postpone this service until both the kids are out of the house … in college. Then the government can have me all the time they need me for because I’ll have finished with my other duty, parenting.


Yeah, right! The clerk clearly meant a postponement for another month, one of my choosing actually. My head is now spinning with confusion, and I could only think that the court, the same one who could take my kids away for “child endangerment” was ordering me to abandon them to go sit in a jury box? This is just great. Very logical. What am I to do now? Suck it up, I guess.


After I postponed my “highest level of serving” (so written on my letter), for six months later, the feeling of impending doom was still consuming my family as we tried to figure out what the week would be like without the cook, chambermaid, chauffeur, lunch-maker, don’t-forget-your-homework-reminder, and most importantly the daily kiss-goodbye-giver. We agreed my husband could assume many of these tasks, but abandoning his duty (work) in the middle of the day should he be required to, would be a challenge. I don’t know how many jobs allow a husband or wife to take off work at the drop of hat to tend to their kids because the other half is at jury duty. Please let me know which employer has this clause included in the contract or job description, 'cause it's a keeper!


Anyway, getting back to the court. Yes, I reluctantly called in again, and postponed one more time. This time, however, the nice lady at the clerk’s office suggested I choose my week during the upcoming Columbus Holiday week. I once again explained that the kids’ school is seven miles away, there's limited bus service, huge inconvenience, my husband works his butt off so we don’t have to be inconvenienced (oops! sorry, this one slipped out), and hope the kids don’t throw up and have to be picked up scenario. She calmly replied, “It’s a four day week for the court. You’ll be fine this week”. Her voice was soothing yet convincing, and made me think this could be my lucky week. So I scheduled myself for Jury Duty, and crossed my fingers I wouldn't be selected for a lengthy trial.


To be continued …

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