I learned on Thursday that being a wine writer will not get one out of jury duty. I was juror 91 in a 100-person pool for a two-week medical negligence trial, and Judge Mary Murphy asked if any of us had obligations that would prevent us from serving.
Ordinarily, I like being on a jury (though I’m rarely picked). I get to do my civic bit, I get out of the house, and I get something to write about. This time, though, I actually had obligations: I’m in Lubbock to check on the Texas grape harvest this week, and I’m speaking at GrapeFest next week. I explained this to the judge and the respective attorneys, and the judge was a bit confused. "We make wine in Texas?" she asked.
In the end, none of us were picked. The jury pool wasn’t big enough, and the judge sent all 100 of us home. I assume they’ll try again with a bigger pool this week.
Several other thoughts from my morning at the George Allen Sr. Courts Building:
• Everyone was very polite. The bailiff kept apologizing for mispronouncing names, and he and the judge kept thanking us –- many times — for being there. The judge even apologized for being short.
• One can pay $5.95 a day to get Wi-Fi in the central jury room, from an outfit called Courtroom Connect. I didn’t pay for it; I didn’t think anyone would let me do live blogging.
• By my count, there were at least six or seven attorneys involved. What does one call a group of lawyers? A gaggle? A posse? A flock?
• How little do most lawyers want me on a jury? Not only was I 91 out of 100, but a man in his mid-20s with a lip ring was called four places ahead of me.
• Why the trouble picking the jury? Was it the complicated and time-consuming nature of the case? Was the pool unusually small because it was a Thursday before a holiday weekend? Are Dallas County residents increasingly ignoring jury duty?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.