Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Citizen's Duty, Part I

(photo caption) St. Paul's City Hall is pictured on the right. The City Hall is also home to the Ramsey County Courthouse and the infamous Room 30.

Fogbot received the letter sometime around the 10th of December, as best he can recall. No, not the letter with Ed McMahon's face on the front, but rather one embossed with "The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota" in the envelope's window. Next to "The Great Seal" were the words, "Ramsey County Jury Office."

"No way!" thought Fogbot. "There's no way they actually selected me for jury duty!"

Normally, Fogbot takes his mail out of his box, sifts through it, weeds out the junk mail, then drops the real mail on his coffee table or dining room table where it sits for a couple of hours until he remembers it again and finally opens it up. Not this particular piece of mail, however.

Fogbot set everything else down and opened this one up immediately. In a large red box occupying the top right corner of the directive, Fogbot saw the words: "Jury Summons."

"Man, they aren't joking around," Fogbot remembers thinking.

The letter went on to read, "You are hereby notified that you have been selected to serve as a trial juror in Ramsey County District Court. You are required to appear in Room 30, Lower Level, of the Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota beginning at 8:30 AM on: January 09, 2006."

"Hunh," Fogbot thought aloud. "They must not know." Regardless, this was an easy out from work on the 9th, maybe longer. Fogbot experienced a sudden excitement.

The next day, Fogbot approached a member of management and let the news flow: Fogbot's going to need the 9th off for jury duty. How do we do that?

"We're going to need a copy of the document," management reported. Damn! Fogbot should've known that. And that was going to be a problem, because Fogbot's workplace closed down on December 16 for two-and-a-half weeks.

"Mental note to self," Fogbot thought. Eventually, the matter was resolved.

The morning of January 9, Fogbot got up early, had his standard breakfast and juice, and swung over to Papa Fogbot's place. Why? Because parking downtown is 1) a hassle and 2) costs money, and Fogbot usually doesn't deal with either proposition, if possible.

Fogbot arrived at the courthouse around 8:20 AM and promptly went downstairs to Room 30 -- the Jury Waiting Room. The room was much larger than Fogbot thought it would be, and there were many more people than Fogbot expected already waiting for their call to act out their civic duty. Near the entrance was a line where people were checking-in by scanning the bar codes on their letters.

This was going to be a problem, because Fogbot had forgotten to send in his personal information sheet that had come with his summons. A gentle voice on the other end of a phone line on January 6 had assured Fogbot that that wouldn't be a problem -- just get to the courthouse on time on the 9th. The scanner wasn't so understanding and let out a strange electronic sound -- akin to the sound you hear when you lose during a video game -- when Fogbot put his letter under the laser.

"Go in there," said the attendant, pointing to a small room off of the larger waiting area.

Soon, all parties had everything in order: they had their information sheet, and Fogbot had lots of time on his hands. He found a seat between two people who looked the most like they weren't wearing fleas or lice, sat down, and cracked open his copy of Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror.

Many pages would be read that day.

To be continued...


Anonymous Super Rookie said...

go rent Runaway Jury!


be like John Cusack and play 'em from the inside!


Thu Jan 12, 11:09:00 AM 2006


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