In February I got a letter in the mail informing me that I was fortunate enough to have picked again to be on call for jury duty. Last time it was for Minnehaha County court. This time it was United States District Court.

Two weeks ago I received a letter informing me that I was fortunate enough to have been picked to serve as one of the 22 jurors who would hear a case. That happened on Tuesday I sat in the jury box in court. It was an somewhat mysteriously interesting experience.

I dutifully reported before 8:15 A.M. as the letter instructed. I walked into a room of people that looked incomplete. A few more entered after I did but the room still looked short. Then we waited for another hour as the clerk informed us they were waiting for 3 more people to come in because we had three no-shows.

I was under the impression that not reporting for jury duty was a crime punishable by jail time. In fact it is but some people didn't report. I will always wonder what happened to them.

After sitting around and chatting with my fellow jurors, most of which were over the age of 55, we were finally called to the courtroom. Each of us took an oath to tell the truth and then began the voir dire process, in which the attorneys and judge decide on our fitness as jurors. We took turns answering the same long list of questions about ourselves that was printed on the back of a laminated sheet of paper. It asked things like what your occupation was, what neighborhood you lived in, prior legal experience and other personal details.

The trial was a civil matter in which the plaintiff was a former inmate at the state penitentiary who was suing two members of the prison staff for violating his Eighth Amendment rights protecting him from cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiff had knee surgery and claims he was denied ice and the ability to elevate his knee.

The plaintiff's attorney and the Assistant Attorney General, representing the state, asked the group some questions and also some individual questions.

"What type of knee surgery did you have," the counsel for the plaintiff asked me.

"Just a knee scope to clean up some mildly torn cartilage," I answered.

I was further inquired as to what exactly I did on the radio.

"So would you say you are a reporter?" the defense counsel asked.

"I make jokes," was my honest reply, generating a small volume of chuckles.

After voir dire ended the court clerk read the names of the twelve jurors who would serve.

Juror number five (me) was not one of them.

I'm pretty sure my job in local media, and maybe my knee surgery 21 years ago, was why I was not chosen as one of the twelve jurors. Honestly I was disappointed. Being a constitutional case I was interested in the facts and the arguments that would have been presented. Furthermore it was only supposed to last three days so it wouldn't have taken over my life.

On the bright side, I shouldn't get called for a long time. It's my wife's turn.

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