When I saw the return address on the letter, I knew. "Jury Administration" can only mean one thing: I'm being called for jury duty.I laughed out loud.
"Most Connecticut residents who experience our state court system will do so as jurors," according to the state's judicial web site. "More than 550,000 individuals are randomly selected each year from source lists obtained from the State Departments of Motor Vehicles, Labor and Revenue services as well as the central voter registry of the Secretary of the State. Of the total number of individuals summoned each year, about 110,000 will serve. More than 80 percent will complete their service in one day."Aha, I thought. I must have been added to the system when I got my new state ID card. But then I flipped the letter over. It had my old address from Bethany. Strange.
I logged in to get myself disqualified, checking the box "I am not a U.S. Citizen," although I could have also selected "I claim previous service withint the past three years," "I am 70 years of age or older," "I do not speak or understand English," "I was convicted of a felony in the past 7 years," "I am a member of the General Assembly and the General Assembly is in session" or "I am Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Comptroller, Attorney General, Judge of Superior, Appellate, Supreme, Probate or Federal Court, or Family Support Magistrate."
Of course, I wanted to say I am the governor of Connecticut, but Albie agreed nobody would really believe me, and M. Jodi Rell would probably get mad at me and sue me for criminal impersonation.
Everyone always tries to get disqualified, mainly because it is such an inconvenience to be in court by 8 a.m. and then wait and wait and wait. Sometimes you get chosen for a big trial, sometimes you get sent home. Apparently there are hundreds of people just waiting around in each courthouse every day, because you never know when a defendant opts for jury trial. Then, jury selection can begin immediately.
Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys interview prospective jurors to find out if they might be biased against the suspect in any way. Several jurors are then excused, and new ones are chosen.
"Jury Service is one of the cornerstones of a free society," this fancy brochure tells me. "By supporting their employees through jury service, employers are helping to preserve the right to a jury trial for all citizens."
Mainly, the brochure tells us that you have the right to skip work to attend jury duty, and your employer must still pay you. "You cannot be dismissed from your job or disciplined for serving jury duty," it confidently promises.
Still curious as to how they chose me - a non-citizen - I continued browsing the judicial site."Names are randomly chosen every year," it says. "Every year your name has an equal chance of being selected and you could receive a jury summons every year. Only persons aged 70 or older who choose not to serve and disabled individuals who have provided a letter from a licensed physician indicating that they are permanently unable to serve jury duty may be permanently disqualified. There are no other permanent records of disqualification or hardship excuses granted, so you must ask to be disqualified each time you receive a summons."
Boy, do I have many years to look forward to...