Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh the Joys of Jury Duty!

January 31st, 2014 counts probably the 10th time I've been picked for Jury Duty, but only the second time I've had to actually go to the courthouse for it.  Before moving to the Chicago area, I was always in school or in the process of moving when I had received summons.  No such luck in Chicago.  I was picked for service a few years ago and actually selected for jury duty.  At the time I hadn't lived in Chicago long and going downtown in the beginning of January is always a pain in the ass.  With the #chiberia polar vortex going on this year I was slightly concerned that the weather was going to be incredibly awful.  I just barely lucked out.  Today there is no snow and its actually about 20 degrees outside.  So not horrendous.

If you ever have to hit the Daley Center in the Chicago area, its not too far from Ogilvie transportation center.  This is great for me because I live about 25 miles northwest of the city.  Traffic and parking during the week are not a special treat in the city.  Especially when you're in the heart of the city.  :(

Last time I had jury duty I got picked to serve on a jury that lasted for about 3 whole days.  For one of the stupidest, boring cases I'd ever heard.  We're talking really, really boring.  In the 80's, I served on the jury in 2010 I believe (?), this woman rented a space from Public Storage.  There was a mix-up with her paperwork and even though she was paying her monthly bill, Public Storage auctioned off her space for defaulting.  This case had been tried and retried and was on its very last appeal.  Public Storage had already been decided to be at fault.  All we had to determine was the amount of damages the woman would get.

This took 3 days of testimony as to what was in her storage space and how expensive it was.  After much deliberation we awarded her $100,000.  The judge spoke with us about the case after it was over.  He told us the reason this was the last appeal was due to it being previously judged by a trio panel of judges.  They awarded her $750 million dollars in damages!!  That's completely insane!  He also told us that just before this appeal, Public Storage offered her $250,000 to settle and she refused.

This just goes to show you never know what will happen when you sue someone.  You could get a huge settlement, you could barely win enough to cover your almost 20 years worth of lawyer fees or you could lose.  That's the one thing I learned from jury duty.  Going to court is pretty much a crap shoot, especially when you have a jury deciding your fate.

For that reason alone I'm not sure that juries are the best way to determine a case.  I mean a judge can tell you the law, but that doesn't really mean all the jurors will understand or interpret it the same way.  Or god forbid you could get someone like me on your jury who pretty much lives in a food blogging cave in her kitchen.  I am not up on current events, never have been and never will be.

After waiting all day, we were finally dismissed an hour early!  But this is the kicker, not a single jury pool!  You'd think the courts would know if they'd possibly need a jury that day or not.  If I hadn't gotten to eat lunch at Macy's Walnut Room my entire day would have been a bust.

So what are your thoughts on Jury Duty?

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