I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jury service

Write, write, have a little holiday, write, pause to process a thousand emails, write, write, have big ambitious thoughts, have a possibly serious and threatening brush with post-Tamoxifen side-effects, then write some more.

And then, today: jury duty. I've never been called, not once, so was curious, though very scared of getting empanelled in a long trial. In the end, you actually have very little say over what happens. I was in the County Court, a rather nice modern building opposite the old Supreme Court, with 200 others, all under the care of an astonishing jury pool supervisor, who kept us informed, described procedures in crystalline clarity, made us laugh, and took all the uncertainty out of the process. So lovely to see someone loving their job and being great at it.

I chatted to her at one point (my occupation was first listed as teacher of English to non native speakers, and she then changed my "professor of medieval literature" to "university professor) and she had done teaching and librarianship at Melbourne, and had travelled a fair bit too. She told me when she took her husband on his first overseas trip, it was Hadrian's Wall and Stonehenge that really blew him away. There you go, with that medieval stone thing again.

Anyway, the people who had to return from yesterday were being empanelled for a TWELVE WEEK trial. The longest one for us was about three weeks. Were any of us wanting to be excused? As we were waiting, I'd phoned my gynaecologist, and confirmed some minor diagnostic surgery* in three weeks' time, so I felt I could legitimately say I couldn't guarantee to keep that time free.

Then I was called for a shorter, civil trial. Thirty of us lined up to be called for a jury of six. This was after a great deal of elaborate, but also efficient calling and registering of numbers and a lovely old wooden box from which they drew the numbers.

We all lined up and were taken into court. Judge, wearing wig and purple robe; two bewigged male barristers, two unwigged male ones, and two elegantly dressed female associates. The judge explained the case (an OHS one) and read the list of witnesses. We were then asked to excuse ourselves, and a few people did. I bit the bullet and said I was "present." But then one of the self-excusers said she had a holiday booked the same day as my surgery, and she was excused, even though the judge said it was unlikely the case would still be going. But then I changed my "present" to "excuse". I don't want to put off the procedure any longer. We then watched as 12 names were drawn, and the two sides had the change to remove three names (they'd all turned to look at us as their names and occupations were read out), then six were chosen and sworn in, and the rest of us went downstairs.

By then it was lunchtime and so I went out and bought a pair of shoes (I don't normally shop in the city, but it was FABULOUS! so many shops! so many sales! Spanish fabric wedge pumps reduced from $315 to $75!!!). We all turned up again at 2.00, hung around for half an hour and were then let go. I could tell Pauline didn't want to let us go. She was like a great tour guide, or a lecturer, actually. She told me she loves it best when she is managing big groups. She would have been looking forward to tomorrow, when she will have about 400...

Well, I'm glad, now, I don't have to do it, because there is a fair amount of writing to be done. There are three facebook friends all waiting for me to get on with it, so I'm back on to it now.

*seriously, just minor. So far, I have dodged the big bullet that seemed to be heading my way.


Elisabeth said...

I've always managed to avoid jury duty for legitimate reasons. It's good to read about what can happen once in the system and far less daunting than I had imagined.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Yes, I think not so much daunting as incredibly time-consuming. Being a teacher, for example, or having a job, is not really regarded as an excuse, unless you work for a tiny company. And even then, one man pleading such an excuse, was still not let off by the judge. "What if you were sick?" he asked...

Anonymous said...

I think you had a more than valid excuse Stephanie: but I do want to say that my time on a jury was a quite deeply moving and positive experience, despite the nastiness of the actual case, and it restored my faith in a lot of things, especially in the decency and good sense shown by a disparate bunch of 11 people -- well, 12, I'll pat myself on the back too. I'd always got out of it in the past with the 'teacher' excuse that now no longer works, and I don't regret having served it for a moment (case did only go for 5 days and you are allowed to choose your time of year so I chose February, in the days when ARC applications had to be lodged before then!).

And while I am here: do look after yourself!

-Paul S.