Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Jury Service

Jury service has been on my bucket list for a frustratingly long time. Younger friends summoned two or three times have declined, with perfectly legitimate reasons. I would gladly have taken their places.

Then this:

“You have been randomly selected to attend for jury duty. You are required to attend the Supreme Court on Thursday 13 August.”

You know that tingling feeling you get when a hairdresser massages your scalp? That’s what I felt when I read the summons. Harry Potter couldn’t have been more pleased when his letter from Hogwarts arrived.

lady-liberty-scales-of-justice-h-1000

My productivity shot up. Garden beds were cleared of fallen leaves, roses pruned, weeds eradicated and wheelbarrows of cow manure, mushroom compost and topsoil were forked into the ground in preparation for a potentially long absence.

I dashed off scene outlines for the adult fiction novel I’m working on and revised several chapters of a children’s book, which may yet find a publisher if it spends long enough out of the bottom drawer for sunlight and a radical re-write to kill the mouldy spots.

The trial was slated to last four weeks, a perfect fit between now and several speaking engagements in September.

I planned what to wear. Nothing too bland that’s for sure; middle-aged women are perceived as deeply conservative and since I’m neither middle aged (I fully intend to live until I’m 120) nor conservative (yes Your Honour that’s me on a protest march) I opted for colour, cursing the fact that I’d thrown away the multi-coloured leather pixie boots I bought at a folk festival (a pretty radical folk festival, let me tell you) and which I subsequently wore in children’s theatre (a kangaroo and a crocodile in the same show, how extreme is that?)

I rued the innumerable slices of buttered toast that precluded a short red dress worn during the run of a Harold Pinter play (give me a minute Your Honour, my mind’s not as sharp as it once was, keep talking and I’ll remember what it was called) and I settled on jeans, boots, several layers of t-shirts and a turquoise cardigan. Unusual.

The appearance of an owl on the phone line outside – a bird I’ve never seen before in Sydney –  two days before the trial filled me with gravitas. This was important work, not something to be undertaken lightly. I stood on the balcony in the dark watching that owl and thought maybe I’d drop the turquoise cardigan. The fate of an unknown man or woman would rest partly in my hands. It was heady stuff.

One final hurdle on the morning of the trial would be the selection process, when counsel for either side can dismiss a juror based on looks alone. I would have to resist the temptation to shoot my hand into the air and cry, Pick me! Pick me!

An open, friendly expression would be required, something intelligent and not too judgemental. No more sitting in front of the TV news declaring some hapless accused prisoner “guilty as all get-out”, I was ready and willing to perform my duties assiduously. I would listen carefully to all sides of the argument and not be swayed by appearance or fancy rhetoric.

The following text message arrived, at 3.20pm the day before.

Your jury service has been cancelled. You are no longer required to attend.

What? You said you wanted me! After years of waiting, of quietly nursing that secret hope, of biding my time with patient resignation, finally I got selected and you rejected me before you’d even seen me? I was your best candidate!

Rejection letters from publishers have hurt less.

 

18 comments on “Jury Service

  1. monsoonwendy
    August 13, 2015

    Gorgeous woman. Loved so much about this post. The owl, the energy, the you-ness of the response to jury duty (Mine? Way too deaf Your Honour) Here’s to staying awake on your path’s journey (even when it’s not what you though the journey would be!) and “finding the treasures lying unseen and unclaimed at your feet” (A highly paraphrased Sufi saying!) You simply can’t go wrong in a turquoise cardigan-perfect journeying wear.

    Like

    • wendylockyer
      August 13, 2015

      Deb you do make me chuckle! 🙂 The pixie boots sound like fun, why did you ever get rid of them? Here’s hoping ‘the call’ comes again soon.

      Sent from my iPad Wendy Lockyer

      >

      Like

  2. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    August 13, 2015

    Thanks lovely lady, that turquoise cardigan matches a necklace I bought at Samunnat! Here’s to spotting the treasures lying at our feet, and to journeying…. towards Canberra I hope one day!!

    Like

  3. monsoonwendy
    August 13, 2015

    Definitely! We had snow yesterday would you believe?

    Like

  4. djangozazou@gmail.com
    August 13, 2015

    I don’t like making you jealous, but since I’m about to do so I may as well relish it and tell you that not only have I done jury service, I’ve actually been asked three times and had to decline two of them. And that’s despite being barred for ten years because I once worked for a solicitor!

    Like

    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 13, 2015

      Now THAT is really not fair, and as for working for a solicitor, was that when you hid all the filing in the bottom drawer? Tell you what though, I bet you were beautifully dressed for the trial!

      Like

  5. Jane @ Shady Baker
    August 13, 2015

    This is funny Deb…I have been called several times but have always used the isolation/distance to travel exemption! You never know, your services may be required again in the future.

    Like

    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 13, 2015

      I went online to check and they’ve given me another exemption that I didn’t even ask for! Maybe I’ve got a secret record with ASIO….

      Like

  6. nipatchworkguild
    August 13, 2015

    I too have never been called. No doubt it’ll happen when I’m just about to go on holidays. You do make me laugh.

    Like

  7. Cathy
    August 13, 2015

    Like you, I’ve always wanted to be ‘called’, but never have. At least you were a step closer this time! 🙂

    Like

    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 13, 2015

      It was close enough to have my clothes ready and waiting at the end of the bed, like the first day of school. Drat!

      Like

  8. bkpyett
    August 17, 2015

    What a let down Deb. I was called only once, and wasn’t chosen the first two days, and then a sick child released me from the uncertainty of being chosen for a rather nasty murder trial. I must admit to being relieved!

    Like

    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 19, 2015

      A rather nasty murder trial? It must be the budding crime writer in me that rubs my hands with glee. On reflection maybe it’s best I wasn’t picked for jury service!

      Like

  9. Grey Dove
    August 21, 2015

    Oh, I can empathize with you on this one! I know I’ll never be called and I would adore to be! On the up side my Father got drafted in a few years back and he found it the most excruciatingly boring (and he is very relaxed, does NOT boar easily) experience ever! They spent most of their time out of the court room while the judge heard things they weren’t allowed to hear, and after a week it was declared a mistrial. On the whole I suspect your let down was probably faster and more pleasant. (Not that Dad was pining to be called, … I couldn’t understand his attitude!)

    And did you get a vender’s name for those fab sounding boots?! Here you are throwing them away, … I’d adore pixy boots! The very thought has me all a quiver!

    Like

  10. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    August 24, 2015

    Never occurred to me it might be boring, I’d have been shocked by that! And only way to get those boots is to attend an obscure folk festival in England, worth a flight over I reckon!

    Like

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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