Last Monday, I was privileged to be called for jury duty in my local municipality.  The summons was straightforward, explaining the mandatory nature of service and offering instructions on how to complete the forms and find the courthouse.  But after completing my one day /one trial obligation, I think an even great service can be done – by me – in re-writing this summons to enable the prospective jurors to fully understand the system.  The following is simply a draft, but available for all municipalities to adopt — in part or in its entirety – in the spirit of juror relations.

Dear Prospective Juror:

Stop cursing.  Take a few deep breaths and know how much you are needed in this process.  Believe us, if there were any other solution whatsoever that would allow us to avoid dealing with you people, we would purchase it no matter what the cost.  But unfortunately, robots have not replaced everything, so we are stuck with each other.  Sorry.  It’s no picnic for us either.

Being chosen to serve on a jury is a privilege that admittedly feels like a huge pain in the ass.  But it’s a mandatory pain in the ass so here is what you have to do:  Your assigned number is 000219.  Call this phone number (1-800-NOCHANCE) the night before you are scheduled to report to hear the juror numbers that must show up.  We realize that this last minute confirmation process does not allow you to make any definitive plans for taking off from work but do not worry.  We have put this system in place only to give you false hope that you will be excused. You will not.  Ever.  Take the day off now.

When you arrive for duty, you will report to the assembly room where you will wait with hundreds of other prospective jurors.  Please be prepared to sit in uncomfortable chairs watching daytime television at abnormally high decibel volumes until you are called for a case.  Please do not be alarmed if while there you experience the following:

Anxiety – It can often be disconcerting to jurors when you look around and attempt to make the connection between the company you are keeping and the right to be tried by a “jury of your peers.”  It is perfectly normal to have feelings of panic that someday when you get arrested you will not be tried by a jury of your peers.  You wouldn’t consider any of these other jurors your “peers” – nor would they consider you theirs.   Here at the courthouse, we consider this reality to be a strong deterrent for a future life of crime.

Urge to Perjure Oneself – During your service, the court will ask you many questions to determine if you can be a fair juror.  While you may be a completely honest person outside this process, you will constantly ask yourself if you can live with offering up a complete lie to be excused.  If you decide to falsely declare that you are a bigot of any kind or that you don’t trust police officers in order to be excused, some sort of therapy might be in order as most jurors do not have the balls to do this.  However, claiming that you believe police officers under all circumstances (even when you don’t) is more commonplace and as long as you feel a fair degree of guilt after you are excused based on this lie, you will not go to Hell.

Paranoia – Once you are called to a courtroom for jury selection, you may be overcome with a sense that the judge, district attorneys, defense team lawyers, defendant, bailiffs and stenographers are all staring at you.  This feeling can become particularly acute during the “voir dire” process  if you have claimed a hardship that will prevent you from serving and that “hardship” has to do with your need to drive your children to sleep away camp while your husband is surfing in Costa Rica.  Rest assured, the court officers have heard far worse, so there is no need to look forlorn as you await the jury to be chosen.

Disappointment – If you are someone who really wants to sit on a jury, please remember that they call it The Trial of the Century because there is only ONE. Most cases that come to court in this municipality involve drug possession, fraud, or some other infraction that is, shall we say, less than riveting.  The chances of you sitting on the jury of any newsworthy case is a fraction of the probability that the defendant will have attended your high school and managed to get caught selling a dime bag.

The required service is for one day or one trial.  If at the end of the day you are not selected for a jury, you are free to go.  Please take caution in exiting the building as we have recently had several incidents of broken ankles resulting in what is commonly referred to as “jumping for joy.”

Finally, please be expected to be called again in the not-so-distant future as we tend to stick with the same people over and over again while your colleagues, friends and neighbors are NEVER EVER considered.

Thank you for your service.


The Jury Commission

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