I re-read the letter from the judge and noted where you could write a letter to get excused for "hardship or medical reasons." No harm, no foul, so I decided to go for it. I wrote to the judge explaining that as a teacher I have to plan every day I'm absent. Teaching isn't the kind of gig where I can say to my staff, Nigel, hold my calls and reschedule everybody for the next week or so. I'm responsible for grading almost 100 papers a week. I advise students in a club and write letters of recommendation and serve on a committee and provide intervention for readers and adjust each lesson plan based on each previous day's achievements (or failures). Prepping for English 12 and AP Language & Composition isn't like telling a sub to referee a few rounds of dodge ball (no offense, phy ed folks, but we all know some courses require more curriculum development than others). As a juror I'd have to serve all day and spend all evening on my day job, that seemed like a hardship to me.
Plus, we have a shortage of substitute teachers. There are some great subs, but the demand is also great, which guarantees an unqualified person would be probably end up in Room 212, and while serving as a juror is a marvelously important civic duty, so is my role as a public educator. I didn't mention in my letter that I'm also a mom of 3 and run a household, though that would make jury duty even tougher under the circumstances.
Friends told me how you usually only have to show up the first day, it's not that big of a deal, you just call in each day and find out if you serve. A few people advised me to just act obnoxious--tell the judge that I'm Wiccan/Vegan/Muslim/Hindu/Baptist/VooDoo/Decaf or that I'm pro-death penalty in all circumstances.
Tempting though it was to pull a Liz Lemon, I can't lie and I'm pretty rotten at it, too, though it was tempting. Instead I started sketching out long-range sub plans for a week and a half. Indeed, I am a weenie and a whiner. But as a weenie and whiner resigned to participating
I imagine I felt a little like the person about to go on trial.
Praying, persevering and planning for contingencies I carried on with a stiff upper lip. I did close my letter to the judge assuring him of my enthusiastic participation as a juror anytime over summer break, so maybe, maybe he'd excuse me out of kindness and recognizing that I was indeed a decent citizen.
Last Wednesday Mr. G took a phone message from the judge's secretary--I was excused! It was such a weight off my back, sweet freedom!
This week the trial started and it's headlining our local newspaper. It turns out I was summoned for a murder trial (exciting!) and the case got under way in a packed-out courthouse. I'm relieved I took a bye this round, this case will run all of another week if what I've read is any indication. Weird to imagine I might have watched everything unfold firsthand and been part of the decision, but I have no regrets, only gratitude toward a sympathetic judge who let me sit this one out.
Spill it, reader. Have you ever served as a juror? Was it interesting or horrible?