Every day people go about their lives, without a nary care in the world. Then one day it arrives in the mail. Not a bill- that could always be paid off at the minimum- but a small envelope sized notice. You peel off the sides, the top, and open it. “You are hereby ordered to be a standby juror” it reads. Now at this point, what do you do? You could either a) ignore it and hope it goes away, b) tape it up and mail it back, or c) call up the number on the date and hope that you’re not one of the lucky ones chosen. Obviously the first two are illegal (the latter unless they had the wrong address), and the third one is the logical choice. Out of that pool, you could be spared; after all you’re only one of a few thousand that receive the notice.
So what do I do, I check online (because calling is for people who have either no computers, or they don’t realize that it’s much easier to check online) and lo and behold, winner winner chicken dinner. I report to my designated courthouse, which wasn’t very far. If anyone cares to know, or if they are dreading jury duty, don’t. The pay, is pitiful. It has not increased since the last time I served (early 2000s). It is still $40 for every day that you serve. You receive a check in the mail 6-8 weeks after your last day served.
For one, if you are in New York City, you are allowed to bring electronics into the central jury room so it is at least bearable for those who abhor sitting in one area for a long period of time. They have wi-fi available as well for those who aren’t paying for their own Internet access. The speeds aren’t slow at all, pages load up fine. You could check facebook if you choose. I should’ve ran a speed test come to think of it, but I suppose a bandwidth for that setting it would most likely be broadband. You are allowed to carry a smart phone with a camera into the central jury room as well as the court room that you’re going to be assigned to as well, just that it is to be off (or on silent). You cannot make calls, however. They make you go outside (which then you would have to re-enter and go through security again, so that is the caveat of making/taking a call).
So you sit there, and then they randomly choose from this large room, about 50 people at a time to go to certain courtrooms within the court itself. They also choose a large group to go to lunch, or to break for the day. You really don’t know what they will choose you for until they call everyone and tell you. For my first day, they chose for me to go home for the day because the case I was assigned to was postponed for the day after.
I ended up going the next day and still didn’t get chosen for a case. A bit bummed, but I left with a 4 year immunity letter (immune from local courts, but not federal). If you live in any other borough than Queens, then you get 6 years.