Yesterday was the last Jury Draw of the three that I have to serve. (In Vermont, you have to do three jury draws or three juries, whichever comes first.) Since I wasn't selected for a jury at any of the draws, I'm officially done.
I never even got called up for voir dire, which is where the judge and attorneys ask questions of a group of 24 people, chosen at random from the pool, in an effort to find 12 people (+ 2 alternates) who will form an impartial jury. Since those of us who aren't part of the 24 are out in the audience, we get treated to a little bit of free theater. (We're supposed to be paying rapt attention to all the questions, since a bunch of the original 24 can be rejected, and they'll call some of us up to fill the empty spaces until they end up with the final jury.)
The questions range from whether or not you know, or are related to, any of the people involved in the case, including the judge, the attorneys, the witnesses, or the defendant, to what are your attitudes toward various things that might be part of the case. (One example of the latter from last month's draw was an examination of people's feelings about logging. Really made me curious about the case...)
Our small town-ness really gets exposed during the questions about knowing or being related to people involved in the case. There are always a fair number of folks who went to school with one or more of the principals, or are related one way or another. "Well, Dr. So-and-So is my first wife's cousin, and the defense attorney got my best friend off on a... ummm... charge. Of some sort. Ummm." "That Trooper So-and-So is the one who showed up when the drunk skewed his truck through my front yard, and I wasn't happy with the way he handled it at all." Like I said, a little free theater.
My favorite, however, is one from yesterday. One woman, when one of the attorneys asked if anyone had any kind of relationship with the attorneys on the case, piped up "Well, I don't know if it's a relationship or not, but my current boyfriend is the ex-boyfriend of your current girlfriend's daughter. Does that count?"
Yeah, small towns...