Warning: Way off-topic post!
I reported bright and early this morning to the Fulton County Justice Center on Central Avenue in Downtown Atlanta for jury duty. It was the first time I’ve ever been summoned for jury duty. My guess is moving around 5 cities, including one overseas, kept me off earlier lists.
In the days leading up to this morning, several well-meaning folks offered advice on what to say to ‘get out of it’. As bad as the timing was for me, I wasn’t going to duck my responsibility. I’m glad I live in a country with trial by jury! Jury duty seems to be a pretty small sacrifice as far as civic duties goes. Certainly smaller than the sacrifices my brother has made serving in the Army with two tours in Iraq!
After a boring day that felt exactly like waiting around at the airport, I was released without being called for jury selection. As a change of pace, I thought I’d post a few things you might want to know when reporting for jury duty in Atlanta:
- On the summons they have a phone number you can call the night before to see if your group has to report.
- They have free parking by the baseball stadium and busses to get you to the courthouse, but I drove and just parked in the Underground pay parking deck across the street.
- The 8am reporting time appeared very flexible. Arriving as late as 8:45 seemed fine. I arrived 10 minutes early and stood in line for 25 minutes to get in.
- I’m not a great judge of crowds – but it looked like 300-400 people were summoned. With 10 State judges and 20 Superior Court judges, it appears they had enough people for all 30 to request a jury today.
- When you are summoned, you are asked to fill out a form and return it. Don’t do it. Instead – fill it out and bring it with you. Ironically, those that didn’t send the form ahead of time were pulled out of line and taken to the front to fill them out and turn them in, leaving us poor suckers that followed directions standing in line for 25 minutes to check in.
- Bring your drivers license. You may not need an ID to vote, but you do for jury duty.
- Dress was all over the map. I wore jeans and a button down and didn’t feel at all out of place.
- You can bring laptops, iPads, and smart phones. They have free wifi. You’ll be glad you did as you’ll do a lot of sitting around and waiting. Seats near a power outlet were scarce, but bring your power cords, as there are a few outlets for recharging your devices. You aren’t allowed to make or receive calls on your mobile phone. They did have TVs, but they were tuned to daytime TV. Nothing quite as uncomfortable as watching a segment on ‘labiaplasty’ with 400 strangers.
- Bring headphones. I had over a dozen people asking me how to connect to wifi or talking non-stop (mostly complaining about being there) until I put my headphones on.
- Bring snacks. They have a vending machine that always seemed to have a long line and the cafeteria was closed during our break.
- Don’t ask me how I found out, but the cheese and cracker spread in the ‘Learning Center’ is not for jurors.
As for what to expect if you are picked for jury selection, or chosen to sit on a jury – I can’t help you there. My civic duty ended when they called my name out shortly after lunch, thanked me for my service, and let me go home with a promise to not be called for jury duty for at least 18 months.