Monday, July 2, 2012

My Jury Duty Summons Experience

Last spring I received a notice in the mail for jury duty. On the form it said I was a standby juror. That meant I wouldn't know for sure if I would be needed until the day before. How that works is you call in to a recording which tells you if you are needed. The last time I had a standby juror notice, I didn't have to go. This time I noticed the form provided contact information to let them know if I would need an accommodation. I sent an email requesting CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) service. They responded by giving me an extension so they would have time to make the arrangements. That was fine with me.

My next notice that came in the mail was an actual jury duty summons - nothing standby about it at all. Again I was instructed to contact the Jury Administration Office concerning accommodations. Once more, I emailed them requesting CART.

On my summons date, I went to the courthouse. When I checked in, I mentioned that I had requested help because I don't hear well. The woman assisting me went to check about it. When she returned, she told me to go ahead and take a seat as I wouldn't need help in this room. She gave me a panel number and a name tag sticker identifying me as a juror. She said that if my panel number got called to go into a courtroom, I was to let the deputy in the courtroom know and he would handle it. I really appreciated that she faced me and spoke distinctly when she told me this.

I took my seat in this very large room that was similar to an airport gate waiting area. After a while, a video was played on large TV screens located around the room. I was very relieved to see that the video was captioned in large type. The video explained everything we needed to know about jury service. Then it was back to waiting. I had brought snacks, a water bottle, and reading material so I didn't mind. After a little longer, panel numbers began to be called. The numbers were announced on a microphone which I was able to hear. My number wasn't called.

An hour later, an announcement was made that we would be dismissed. No more jurors were needed that day. We lined up at a counter according to our last names and received checks for our jury service.

To be honest, I was kind of relieved that it turned out that way. I knew I did the right thing by showing up and by requesting accommodations, but I was still concerned about how I would be able to hear during jury deliberations. I hoped a CART provider would be allowed in the room with me, but I wasn't absolutely sure.

I recently read an article on the Limping Chicken website about a deaf woman in England who was rejected for jury duty because of her deafness. I am glad that here in America, I was given a chance to participate.

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