My day as a prospective juror: hurry up and wait to be dismissed

What I dreaded would be a long and drawn out jury selection process became a nothing event. Wikipedia/SimonP
What I dreaded would be a long and drawn out jury selection process became a nothing event. Wikipedia/SimonP

I was coming home on a beautiful fall afternoon – one of those days where the sun shone brightly and the temperature was perfect, to find a rather scary letter in my mailbox. I handled it gingerly, not wanting to open it, knowing what it probably said inside.

The letter, from the Sherriff’s Office was actually a questionnaire about my fitness for jury duty.

Those two words strike fear in the hearts of so many (including myself) that have never been required to perform this civic duty. Up to that point, I had managed to not be selected for duty but regularly cringed upon hearing that friends, co-workers and family had been called to serve.

Not surprisingly, I received a notice to appear at jury selection in the New Year and dutifully arrived at the appointed date and time, where I received a surprisingly short introduction in trying to wrap my head around the selection process in Ontario.

Being at the Ontario Superior Court in downtown Toronto brought what appeared to be a larger selection pool than in smaller population centres as hordes of us streamed in, all with similar “what’s next?” looks on our faces.

After settling in to my designated area (everyone is divided into sections by colour) I caught up on some reading, fiddled with my smart phone and watched with a smirk as quite a few people showed up late, some looking like they had rolled out of bed.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, after some time of telling us to just hang on, the court clerk gave a short speech on the intricacies of juries within court cases and then dropped the proverbial bomb: we were free to go!

How was this possible? How would what I thought would be weeks/months toiling over a case amount to a simple dismissal?

Turns out there were no active cases needing juries that week (we were there on a Wednesday) and that as a result, all of us were free to go, having served our jury duty for the next three years.

What I dreaded would be a long and drawn out process became a nothing event. Part of me was -almost- disappointed that I didn’t have to go through motions, given that I had made an effort to arrive on time and ready to go.

For all the hand-wringing and complaining those around me had to put up with, I actually had a decent experience, owing to the short and sweet turnaround and probably a bit of luck!
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