As 8:00 rolled around, it looked like the cast of 12 Angry Men had shown up. And then I noticed that there were a lot of people there. I tried to do a mental count and gave up after I hit 30. I also noticed I was the youngest person there. When the doors were unlocked we all moved into the actual courthouse and up the stairs to room 202. Here there was a man who was checking our papers and directing us to a woman who was also checking papers. Around 8:30 the man that was checking our papers entered the room (which was set up like a court room) and introduced himself as the courthouse clerk. At the risk of sounding weird, this guy was extremely charming and it was obvious that he loved his job.
He explained how things were going to go and took questions. Some of the questions came up were really interesting. For example, Florida no longer picks who gets jury summons by voter's registration. Now it's determined by whether or not you have a Florida driver's license or state ID card. Also someone asked how many people were actually summoned/how many showed up. Turns out around 250 were summoned, of those about 80 of us were in that room (and of those 60 or so were first-timers). The others were excused for medical/other reasons or just plain didn't show up. Someone asked what happens if you don't actually show up if you get a summons. First they'll send you a letter and postpone you to another date (in this case it would have been July). If you ignore THAT letter, then they send a certified letter. Ignore that and the sherrif gets involved. Ignore the sherrif's letter and then he gets to personally arrest you and drag you to the courthouse where the judge determines how long you get to spend in jail until you comply.
After the Q&A he explained that there were currently five cases that needed jurors for; three of those were misdemeanor criminal cases (the other two were felony criminal cases). It was also interesting to note that this courthouse uses six jurors for each trial, plus one alternative. This meant that out of the 80, 35 of us were going to be selected to sit on the jury. We then had to watch a ten minute video that went over terminology and explained the difference between civil and criminal cases. When it ended he came back and said that the three misdemeanor cases were settled. So instead of 35 of us needing to be selected, only 14 of us would be.
Then the judge came and as we were all rising up I thought about how amazing it is that not only does this guy get his own personal armed escort but he has the power to cause an entire room to STAND every time he enters it. Anyway, he explained that he would listen to any "hardships" that people had and judge on whether or not to grant a temporary pardon (they'd have to come back in July). Everyone who wasn't going to present a hardship to the judge was allowed to take a fifteen minute recess.
Fifteen minutes later the Clerk came back up and explained that in order to get the 14 jurors necessary only 40 of us would be required to stay. The rest were allowed to go home. "Anyone that has a number 141 or higher is dismissed...as long as you don't jump up and down with joy while your neighbor has to stay." Mine was 202. As we were about to get up he added that this counts as having served our civil duty, so we're all exempt from jury duty again until this time next year.
As I was walking away from the courthouse I was kind of sad I didn't get to stay and see through to the next part (where the lawyers start asking you questions). I mean, I guess it's ironic I feel like that since this morning I was praying like crazy that I'd be dismissed.. but it was just.. such an interesting experience that I kind of wanted to see it through to the end.
Had I actually been selected to move on and made it through to the end, this would have been a good time to do it. Both trials, according to the clerk and judge, would have only lasted a day each. One was tomorrow and the other was Friday.
Now my biggest question is.. should I try to take a nap? Or should I just push myself and stay awake until tonight and try to get a lot of sleep? Haven't quite decided yet...