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Yesterday, I spent some solid time in the jury lounge of D.C. Superior Court fulfilling my civic duty. Ever since, D.C. Superior Court started going after truant jurors, it’s been a good idea to not buck the system and accept that you’re gonna have to do some time in the third-floor jury room.
So here’s a review:
1) You May Run Into An Inside-the-Beltway Celebrity: I decided to dress way down for my jury duty. The thinking was I’d look bad enough that no lawyer would want me deciding their case. I didn’t shave. I wore my old hoodie, dirty blue pants, and green sneakers. I looked like an asshole. (Full disclosure: I wore the same outfit to work the day before and the day before that). There is a problem with this strategy. A big problem. You Might Run Into Someone Famous, Someone Who Could Get You A Job In the Obama Administration.
Obama’s people are everywhere. They even serve jury duty. Yesterday, John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, reported to Superior Court for jury service. I took pride in spotting him the minute he walked past me in line. I took pride in knowing he had no idea who I was.
The point: dress up, and shave. And bring your resume. I did overhear one juror bragging that he had given Podesta his resume. That guy had guts.
2) Avoid the Jury Lounge: Sit in the hallway. Pace the hallway. Set up your laptop in the court’s business center (or whatever it’s called). But try to avoid the jury lounge itself. It’s not a place where you can get serious work done. They show bad movies there. Yesterday, it was National Treasure (I think the first one). That movie is terrible. You’re better off reading a book in the hallway. If that doesn’t work, the hallway does offer great people watching moments: elated lawyers coming out of a courtroom, bored cops, chatty Superior Court staffers.
You do not want to spend your day watching National Treasure. Superior Court needs to bring back the Ken Burns films it used to show!
3) Avoid Firehook: It’s OK for coffee. But skip the basement Firehook branch when the lunch hour is called. The local chain’s sandwiches are really bland. If you’re a vegetarian, you are screwed. Even the pizza under the heat lamp was meat pizza. I had the lentil salad and the pesto pasta salad. Both were bland as hospital food. Since the chain has expanded, I think it has lost a lot of its charms. You have an hour, take a walk up to Chinatown.
4) Don’t Flip Out At Superior Court Staff: The employees who run the jury pool are super cool. They make jokes. They smile. They read Washington City Paper. They allow you to sign out for breaks. They are your friends. One small point, they could lose the don’t-you-hate-to-be-here schtick. It’s our civic duty. If we don’t show up, we could get arrested. These jokes only reinforce preconceived notions that jury duty isn’t fun.
5) Jury Duty Is Fun: If you don’t get picked, if you get to sit around the 3rd Floor all day staring at John Podesta, reading a good book and listening to tunes, you have no right to complain about jury duty.