Whelp, after what I thought was gonna be a quick “in and out” over at the courthouse last week, my adventures of jury duty turned out to be a week-long affair! I guess attorneys these days sure like their mohawks as I didn’t scare them one bit! Haha… way to fail, little spikeys ;)
But in all honesty, I actually had a REALLY good time there despite all my bitching and moaning about it lately. There were certainly times where I wanted to gouge my eyes out just because all 8 lawyers or whatever kept repeating the EXACT same thing over and over again (I can’t talk about the case in details, of course, but let’s just say there were like 5 parties involved in a bad car crash and everyone had like 2 lawyers each), but overall it was well worth the experience. I’d been called to jury duty plenty of times before – including a time in NYC where it was like HELL – but this was my first *pleasurable* time actually ON a case and asked to determine the fate of all people. It was pretty surreal. I only had one major gripe about the whole process, which I’ll be sure to tell you about in a bit.
Outside of all the fun and interesting parts of doing your civic duties though – cuz that’s really what it is, helping out your fellow citizens in a time they need you the most! – there were quite a bit of financial tidbits thrown into the mix as well. Mostly random observations I made as time went on all week, but nonetheless still relating to money. Which is the point of me blabbering on about this today – it really does relate to it! ;)
Here were some of the financial things I found interesting:
- For each day you serve, you get paid $15. With a few bucks more if you stay super late, and up to $50 or $60 (per day) if you end up getting asked to stay more than a week. Which is a TON better than $15/day of course. (All counties and states differ fyi)
- The money you get is considered a “reimbursement of expenses” NOT pay. Which means you don’t have to report the income as “income” because it wasn’t income – it was money to pay you for your expenses incurred such as gas, food, parking, etc etc. Though of course everyone there just considered it free money :)
- You had the option of donating the money to a local cause instead of keeping it. Which, as you know, I had to say “yes” to because it’s how I run my charitable side of my life ;) I don’t give $XXX money every month, or support a main cause or anything, I just say yes to anyone who asks me to help support THEIRS. It’s a fun way for me to give and experience new organizations.
- I ended up donating $60 bucks in the end – instead of the $15 I was originally thinking! Haha… not that I would have changed my mind, but still – a $15 donation is much different than a $60 one ;) It felt good though for sure.
- All the food joints at the courthouse only accepted CASH. Which is fine cuz my rule is to ALWAYS have some on you, but it was def. a mess for some other people. Luckily/brilliantly, the fine folks there placed an ATM conveniently next to these food shops ;) Which of course they’re getting money from every time people pull out this cash they need to use for eating!
- They even had a make-shift booth set up in a next door office room for us jurors :) I don’t know how the guy got permission to do it (maybe he shares profits with them?) but either way it was AWESOME. Especially as most of us was running late to get there on time the first day, and we were starving for snacks and/or coffee. So I gladly handed him my $2.37 for a danish and hazelnut brew. A true hustler!
- One of the fellow jurors on my case was so frugal he never brought lunch! I don’t know how he sustained his appetite the whole time (he was also in the middle of cutting out beer & smokes which used to cost him $400 a month!), but the first day I felt bad and gave him one of my pb&j sandwiches. A cool way to meet a new friend for sure :) Later I came to realize he may be a bit more poor than frugal really – I wasn’t too sure – but either way he ended up being one of my favorite people there. And actually looked like a modern day Pythagoras with long gray beard and all! Haha… Pretty funny the people you end up crossing in life…
- The metal detectors at the court house SUCKED. I literally went through them once with a pocket full of change without out any bells or sirens going off whatsoever. That’s pretty bad. Though it was interesting they made you turn on your laptops and cell phones once through to make sure they indeed worked and you weren’t hiding anything – so at least that’s good.
And then here were some other observations I found interesting in general:
- I NEVER want to be the person who has to wrangle up all the potential jurors – Everyone HATES showing up and they give the court employees such horrible times! I counted at least 4 people who either back-talked, or became super bitchy to everyone around them because they thought they were too good to be there… the first 15 mins with this group of random assorted people sucks as no one’s happy :(
- Then after a bit, you really DO gain an appreciation for how the judicial system works. They show you this video to explain everything, and then talk about how important you are to these citizen’s cases, and you realize that your minor inconvenience doesn’t even COMPARE to some of the stuff these people are going through :( It really does help put things in perspective.
- The juror lounge also had a cool computer section going on! For anyone wanting/needing to use them while waiting to be called into the selection process – it was a nice surprise, especially considering how my last jaunt (the NYC one) went when we were all crammed into a room w/ nothing at all to do than read and/or sit there in silence. Man that blew…
- A lot of people still use AOL :) I can’t tell you how many times I heard those annoying sounds coming from the computers when someone was logging on or whatever – who knew they were still even around?? Oh, and also? People found a way to play World of Warcraft on them too, haha…
- There were also old telephone banks in the back – way before the days of cell phones. Brought back good memories of calling collect as a kid ;)
- I met one of the employees of ThinkGeek.com – A cool site if you’ve never been there before :) He showed us some of the crazy stuff they sell on it like playable guitar shirts and a life-size replica of the sword throne from Game of Thrones! Haha…which will only cost you a mere $29,999 ;) It was a fun way to pass the time in between things.
As far as our baby and my wife’s part-time job we were concerned about the whole time? Well, that one was solved by Mrs BudgetsAreSexy staying at home and watching him while working during his barely-existent nap times :) Which her work so graciously allowed her to do as we had NO ONE else who could babysit while both away. So it really worked out in the end. Though I am stuck with hundreds and hundreds (literally) of email I’m still playing catch up with. But that’s alright – I’d much rather be in this position than those tied up in legal battles, that’s for sure!
A great experience overall. Except for maybe that end part I alluded to earlier in this post ;( After all four days there, Monday – Thursday until 5pm every single day, in the end I come to find out that I was an “alternate!!!!!” Which meant that I had absolutely NO SAY in the final decisions of the case, and had to leave the room before my fellow jurors went to deliberate :( What a let down… It make sense why they don’t tell you this BEFORE you start the case – cuz they want you alert and paying attention in case one of the other jurors fall sick or have to leave for whatever reason – but still. All that time and energy spent there the whole week just washed away as if you were never needed. It was pretty disappointing :( Though on the plus side, I later found out that they had ruled EXACTLY like I would have done anyways, so in the end justice was still served in my opinion. Which is nice :)
So that was my week! Life put on hold to serve my fellow citizens, but overall a new experience I can take with me for years and years to come :) I’d totally do it over again if I could, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be called up to do so again as soon as the time limit expires – I’m ALWAYS getting asked to come in! And this time I’ll be able to plan a lot better knowing my ‘hawk doesn’t automatically disqualify me for the race ;) I guess it’s becoming more normal!
What did you all get into last week? Anything juicy in your life or money? What did I miss?
Photo credit: Sam Howzit