Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twelve Angry Men...every two years

For some reason, I'm very popular with the State of Rhode Island and its court system. They just can't enough of me as every two years, like clockwork, I receive a summons to join a group of my peers for jury duty. I've never quite understood this. I was under the impression that selection for jury duty is based on a random selection of eligible voters. Apparently, I'm just tremendously lucky in this regard or I'm being stalked by someone in Superior Court or U.S. District Court.

In Newport County, where I used to live, you were called for 1 day and you were empanelled or you were not. Thankfully I didn't live in the jurisdiction of the Providence courts years ago when you'd be summoned for jury duty and then have to report every day for two straight weeks on the off-chance that a jury was needed. God help you if you were selected for a jury on your last day! Blessedly, the courts in Providence County finally smartened up and shifted to the "get called for 1 day" approach.

Now, I have no problem doing my civic duty and serving on a jury. I just don't understand why I have this biennial duty showered upon me. I have friends and family who have lived in this state for 30+ years and they've never been called for jury duty. Not once. For some reason, I appear to be the sacrificial lamb, taking that jury duty bullet so other people don't.

And so it's with dread that I look toward January and February of odd numbered years, when I will almost certainly receive that envelope from the courts with the ever-so-polite invitation to come join the fun at the J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Center or face a $100 fine and three days in jail. I must have missed the first one this year -- the "tell us about you so we know where to find you...again" -- mailing. Apparently, they already knew because the second one -- the "cancel your plans, put your life on hold, and come join us" letter -- arrived today. I guess I know where I'll be on April 7th. Gee...I can't wait.

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