Jury Duty

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This story is a fantasy based loosely on real events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Jury duty. It happens to everyone, right? I got a summons at what seemed like the worst possible time for me, but when would you ever say, this is the perfect time for jury duty? I was recently divorced, and I had just moved in with my parents, because I was, well, broke. Worse yet, I was just starting a new job. Like, it would have been my third day there. They were gracious enough about it, but I guess there wasn’t really anything they could do. So there I was at 8:30 in the morning, sitting in the jury room. There were hundreds of jurors called. The room was full of people. I brought a book with me and figured I’d probably be spending the whole day reading and then they would send me home.

Of course life wouldn’t be that simple. After check-in, and a speech by one of the judges, they started showing us an instructional video about being a juror. Before the video was even over, the clerk stopped it to tell us they were picking jurors for a case. There were hundreds of jurors there, so the odds were very much against hearing my name, so of course I was 7th on their list. Cursing my luck and the founding fathers and anything else I could think of, I was herded upstairs with the rest of the lucky jurors, with the same kind of grim resignation that people probably felt on their way to the gas chamber. Nobody spoke or even looked at each other. Eventually we got to the courtroom and were instructed to sit on the benches at the back of the room. I filed in and took a spot on a bench, and suddenly noticed that the girl filing in next to me was fairly cute. She was maybe 5 foot 4 with a round face. She had long brown hair, a gray top, a gray skirt that went all the way to her ankles, and sneakers. Hah, sneakers! Here I was in my best work clothes. I should’ve worn sneakers too, I guess. What would they have done, held me in contempt and thrown me in jail?

Of course I only took a second to glance at my neighbor as she sat down, and then it was back to staring straight ahead of me. The judge explained the jury process to us, and then asked if there was any reason that anybody felt they couldn’t serve on this jury. One woman knew one of the witnesses. Okay, gone. One lady stood up and said she was an attorney and had worked with the plaintiff’s attorney before. Yeah, bye-bye. Then the woman on the other side of me also said she was familiar with one of the witnesses. Back to the jury pool, ma’am. The rest of us stood up to let her pass. I bumped into my cute neighbor accidentally standing up. We mumbled to each other about being sorry. We bumped into each other again sitting down. We mumbled to each other about being sorry again. I shuffled a little into the now empty space next to us to give us more room.

The fleeting contact stayed in my mind, though. I chanced a glance at her. Ringless fingers. Could she be single? She brought two huge bags with her. One I judged to be a large purse. The other held reading materials and maybe some snacks or something. I stole another glance at the side of her face. She was totally into what was going on. The clerk was calling out names to go sit in the jury box. I have a quasi-photographic memory so I quickly realized that they were calling names in the same order they had called us downstairs. Sure enough, I was number seven, and grudgingly stood up and made my way past her to the jury box, brushing past her legs as I did so. It was a civil trial, so there were seven jurors. I was the last juror called. I wondered if that was the end of our brief flirtation. The judge was now explaining to us that she was going to ask a series of questions for the benefit of herself and counsel. We could be excused for no reason at all by either counsel. I thought to myself that I would be my true opinionated self and get kicked off the jury panel in no time.

The jury selection process seemed like it was going to go really quickly at first. Only 2 of the original six jurors were excused on the way to get to me. In listening to the questions that were asked, I knew that I could be completely honest in my answers and get kicked off the jury. I just knew it.

My questioning began, and sure enough when the time came I told them that I thought that tort reform was a good idea. I got called up to the bench along with counsel. I explained to them that I believed that it was necessary to limit frivolous lawsuits and cap settlements. This was a personal injury case! There was no way the plaintiff’s attorney would still want me on the jury after a speech like that, right?

I went back to my seat and finished my questioning. Next the attorneys had their chance to dismiss any jurors for any reason. The plaintiff’s attorney stood up and asked to dismiss juror number 6. Wait, what? I was so sure I would be the one to go I was halfway out of my seat. Juror number 6 was dismissed and was replaced by the next person called. The defense attorney asked to dismiss juror number 4. I knew at that point that I was on this jury for the duration.

Somehow picking Antalya Escort a new juror number 4 proved to be nearly impossible. Juror after juror sat down in the empty chair. A couple had excuses about why they would not be able to be on a trial, like an important business meeting tomorrow, or a doctor’s appointment they couldn’t easily reschedule. They were quickly dismissed. A couple of the people were clearly wacko. We went through several people, and then stopped for lunch. I wandered off on my own to an Italian restaurant down the street. I was sure that hundreds of people from the courthouse would come crowding into the place at lunchtime, but the place stayed strangely empty. The pizza was good, too. Go figure.

We were instructed to wait outside the jury room after an hour, and we would be led back to the courtroom. I ate and was back in plenty of time, well-fed and restless. I found myself pacing back and forth along the hallway. I kept thinking about my new job and how I was on jury duty instead of being on what would’ve been my third day of work. I was just starting to learn about my job and here I was pacing around a courthouse. I spotted my cute neighbor, sitting at one of the tables by the snack machines and reading a magazine out of one of her huge bags. I wasn’t the type to start a conversation with people I didn’t really know, so I just kept pacing the halls until the clerk came and escorted us all back to the courtroom.

The jury pool continued to dwindle after lunch. Twice the judge made it through all of her questions, only to have one of the attorneys ask to dismiss the juror. Once I was really glad because it was a crazy old man with an awful speech impediment. I couldn’t imagine having to sit in a jury room and deliberate with him. Eventually we got to the point where there were only about half a dozen potential jurors left out of the original 30. Worse still, several of them were called up to the bench for ‘asides’ like I was and every other one of them was let go. I couldn’t believe I was still there! At least the cute girl was still sitting out there. I wondered if and when she would get called.

Suddenly it was her turn. Her name was Nicole, it turned out. I turned to watch her walk across the courtroom and sit in the vacated chair. She wasn’t too graceful. Maybe it was the heavy bags she was carrying. Watching her was more fun than staring straight ahead, at least. She politely answered all of the judge’s questions that we had already heard about 25 times already, and when neither counsel had any objections, the jury was set. We could finally get going with the case, at least. Nicole was sitting right below me in the jury box, so if nothing else I was going to end up spending the next couple of days staring at the back of her head.

We were given a 15 minute afternoon break before we would start with opening arguments. We were sent out of the jury room to have a snack or whatever. Now that we were ‘the jury’ the demeanor of the seven of us was noticeably different. There was an air of camaraderie amongst us, the chosen. Emboldened, I set my pace so that I would be walking alongside Nicole. We exchanged a couple of sheepish glances as we headed back to the jury area, but no conversation.

I went to the bathroom and then called my office to tell them that I was definitely on a case. The judge insisted that we would be done within three days, though. It was going to be a very short case because we were only going to hear from the plaintiff, defendant, and two expert witnesses who had taped their testimony. My boss was understanding and asked me to keep her updated.

Out in the hallway, our jury had kind of congregated together. We weren’t really talking to each other, just sharing knowing glances. The clerk came and led us back to the courtroom. We heard the opening arguments and then the plaintiff took the stand. Her testimony lasted the rest of the afternoon. We were dismissed for the day and asked to come back at 9am. For my new job I had to get up at 6am and leave at 7am to be at work by 8. The courthouse was only 15 minutes from my house, so 9am was like a vacation!

I got to the courthouse at ten minutes to nine the next morning. I immediately spotted Nicole sitting in a chair by the vending machines. She was sitting with her head propped up on her elbow, idly flipping through a magazine. She happened to look up as I passed. I gave her a half-smile and she glanced back at her magazine. That went well, I thought to myself. I recognized a couple of other jurors from the case sitting a couple of tables away and bullshitting. I sat down next to them and listened to them go on until we were escorted back to the courtroom.

We heard the defendant’s testimony, took a break, and then watched a recording of one of the expert witnesses. When that was over it was already time for lunch. I was thinking about just going home and making a sandwich since home was only 10 minutes away, but I overheard some of the other jurors talking about going for pizza. I figured what the hell? I sort of invited myself along by saying, “Yeah, Antalya Escort Bayan pizza sounds good,” and following the group of three jurors that were talking about it, one of the other male jurors, a younger woman and an older woman. If they minded at all they didn’t show it, and we walked out of the courthouse and into the brilliant sunshine of a July afternoon. I thought about Nicole and where she might be going, and suddenly realized that someone was behind me. Nicole had also tagged along with our group of jurors and was two steps behind me.

We walked away from the courthouse and down towards the main street. The other three jurors were having an animated discussion. I slowed up my pace so that I was walking next to Nicole, but all we did was occasionally glance at each other.

I followed the other jurors to another pizza shop a couple of blocks away from the one I went to the day before. The place I had gone to the day before was more like a restaurant. This place was more of a take out place. It was much more crowded, but we did manage to find one of the larger tables in the back empty, and settled into it. I was surprised to look up and see Nicole sitting down across from me. She caught my eye and gave me a half-smile. I half-smiled back at her and pretended to be listening to the other jurors.

A waitress came over to take our order. We ended up getting a pie for the five of us. A busboy came over and gave us all water.

“Nice day, huh?” Nicole suddenly said to me. It was the first words either of us had spoken to each other.

It was the middle of July, and at least 90 degrees outside. The walk of a few blocks was enough to make me sweat in my dress clothes. “Yeah, great weather,” I replied, trying to make it sound like I meant it.

“So…” Nicole said, clearly looking to find a good conversation starter, “First time on a jury?”

“Yeah,” I said, “First time I actually had to show up. Usually I had number one thousand something and they wouldn’t even call me in.” I paused. “What about you?”

“Same thing,” Nicole said, “It’s my first time. I’m Nicole,” she said.

I pretended that I didn’t know her name already. “I’m Fred,” I replied.

“So, what do you do Fred?” Nicole asked.

“Well, I actually just started a new job last week. I’m a paralegal,” I replied.

“Wow, you didn’t try to get out of it?” Nicole asked.

“I didn’t think of it,” I said, “I got the summons before I even interviewed for this job. I don’t know if they would’ve let me out anyway. Besides, the new place seems pretty cool about it.”

“Well that’s good,” Nicole said.

“What do you do?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m a receptionist at an accounting firm,” Nicole said, “I’ve been there a few years now. They weren’t happy to lose me to jury duty. They had to hire a temp to cover for me.”

“Yeah, I can imagine that would piss them off,” I replied flippantly.

“At least this shouldn’t take more than a day or so,” Nicole said.

“Yeah,” I said, and then our pizza arrived, ending the conversation.

On the way back we got drawn into the larger conversation with the rest of the jurors. It wasn’t worth recounting. We got back to court and we were led back up to the courtroom. We heard the other expert witness and the closing arguments, and we took another break before we began our deliberations. I sought out Nicole and we walked side by side to the break area. We sat down at one of the tables across from each other.

“So… are you married?” Nicole suddenly asked.

I was surprised she asked. I figured she did the ring check just like I did. Maybe she thought there was a chance I just wasn’t wearing one. “I’m divorced,” I said.

“Oh,” Nicole said, “Any kids?”

“Yeah, I have a two year old daughter,” I replied. “What about you?” I asked quickly before she could keep grilling me.

“Oh, not married, no kids,” she said. “28 is too young to think about things like that these days.”

“True,” I said, “I got married at 33 and had a child at 35, and I was still too young.” I chuckled.

“So you’re… 37?” Nicole asked.

“Yeah,” I said. I knew I looked several years younger than I really was. I wondered if Nicole would lose interest in me now that she realized I was almost ten years older than she was.

“How recently were you divorced, then?” Nicole asked. She was shrewd enough to pick up on the fact that my divorce must have been recent if I had a young child.

“Just a couple of months now,” I replied.

“Oh,” Nicole said, “It must have been rough.”

“It was,” I said. Luckily the clerk came down to bring us back up to the courtroom at that point. I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought that if she pried any deeper into my life story I would end up scaring her away.

I was secretly hoping that we would get the 6-1 vote we needed immediately and get on with our lives. It was a pretty cut and dry case to me. However after we went over the rules for a few minutes and talked about the details of the case for a few more, it became clear that some of us saw Escort Antalya things differently. We took a vote. It was 4-3. At least I was in the majority. Nicole was in the majority too. We shared a knowing glance after we both voted the same. We then had to deliberate to sway at least two of the other jurors over to our side. We were able to change one mind quickly enough, but as the end of the day loomed it became clear that we weren’t going to get the votes we needed. The clerk knocked on the door at 4:30 and dismissed us. I was a little disgruntled. I was hoping to get back to my new job, and it was going to take another day. I called my office to let them know. Nicole was walking in the parking lot next to me, also on her phone, probably also talking to her office. I finished my call but she was still talking. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” I said to her. All she could do was wave to me.

“I know, I’m sorry, it’s going to be one more day…” I heard her say on the phone as she walked away from me.

The next morning I found her waiting downstairs at a quarter to nine. I sat down next to her and we exchanged hellos.

“How was your evening?” Nicole asked.

“Typical,” I said, “I ate dinner, watched a ballgame, and went to bed. I played with the dog a little bit. What about you?”

“Pretty much the same,” Nicole said, “No dog, though. I have a cat. She doesn’t really play.” We laughed. Nicole glanced around us. “How much longer do you think this will take?” She whispered.

“Not too long,” I whispered back, “We only have to talk one of the other jurors into voting with us, and we’re done. An hour, maybe.”

“Okay,” Nicole said.

The clerk arrived to lead us back to the jury room. We sat down to continue deliberations. It did indeed take a little over an hour to convince not one, but both of the other jurors to find the defendant not guilty based on the law. We went out and the foreman told the judge what our verdict was, and we were done.

The judge gave a little speech, mostly thanking us for taking the time to serve, and dismissed us. It was about 10:30. I heard some of the other jurors talking about what they were going to do with the rest of the day, but I was thinking about going to work. I was brand new there, after all, still in training. I was almost excited about getting going again.

Nicole was with me as we walked out. I thought that maybe she was just going to give me a polite goodbye, and maybe I’d jerk off once or twice thinking about her, and get on with my life.

“So, what are you going to do for the rest of the day?” She asked me.

“I was going to head back to the office, actually,” I said, “What about you?” I thought she was going to say the same thing. She sounded pretty dedicated to her job.

“Oh,” Nicole said, “I thought maybe…” she trailed off.

I turned to look at her, surprised. She was going to suggest something that involved us spending time together. “But I guess I can tell them I was stuck at court all day,” I said, quickly backtracking.

“I don’t want to get you into trouble,” Nicole said.

“It’ll be okay,” I said, “I only told my boss it was going to take another day. I didn’t mention how long I thought it would be. I can tell them it took the whole day.” I paused to glance at the letter they gave each of us as we left, proof to show our employers that we were indeed at jury duty. It only gave the dates we were at court, including that day. It didn’t give the exact time we were dismissed. “I’m not a great liar, but I’ll give it my best shot. What about you?” I asked. “You’re not going back to work?”

“Nah,” Nicole said, “I can use the break. They already have the temp there for the whole day. It’s not like they can send her home after two hours and get a refund.”

I wasn’t sure that was entirely true, but I held my tongue. We were now standing in the court parking lot. “So… what do you want to do?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, “I don’t think any restaurants are open yet, and I’m not hungry anyway.”

“Well… do you want to do… something?” I asked. I was trying to think of something we could do at 11am on a Wednesday morning, but I came up empty.

“Well… where do you live?” Nicole asked me.

“I’m only about ten minutes from here,” I said. “What about you?”

“Oh, I live on the other side of the county,” Nicole replied. “It’s about half an hour away.”

I thought it was just an informational question. I was shocked when Nicole said, “Maybe we can go hang out at your place, since you’re closer.”

I was surprised by her suggestion. There was one huge problem. “That would be great,” I said, “But there’s one thing you should know.”

“What’s that?” Nicole asked.

“After the divorce I moved in with my parents,” I said.

I thought that would kill our momentum. I hadn’t really had any post-divorce experience with women up until Nicole, but I had put up profiles on a few of the online dating sites, and spent a lot of my spare time reading through women’s profiles there, many of which made it a point to state that their ideal man wouldn’t be living with his parents. I took it to mean that I stood virtually no chance of having any kind of a relationship with a woman until I was able to move into my own place again. Nicole was surprisingly undaunted. “Hmm…” she said. “Are they retired?”

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