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FCW Insider: Doing my (jury) duty

Somewhat off-topic, but...

I'm spending my day at the District of Columbia Superior Court where I have been called for jury duty. There are many great things about living in Washington, D.C. But there are also some not so great things: Of course, there is taxation without representation (or DCVote.org )... and there is the fact that you get called for jury duty just about every two years. It is remarkable. It is almost to the day. That is because the District has a relatively small population of potential jurors and, by contract, a ton o' cases that need jurors. Not only are there District Court cases, there are federal cases, and there are the always mysterious grand juries.

The court has been efficient, generally. For example, I had to change my duty date. (They wanted me here two weeks ago, but I was in the thick of Fed 100 stuff, so... it just made it difficult.) They have an online system that you can use to select another date. [Read their release about the system here (.pdf)] That part of the process was remarkably easy and efficient. Ah, e-gov, (which, by the way, I think is much different then Government 2.0).

But over all, the process is not very exotic. I had to be here at 8a this morning and checked in with a hoard of other people. They gave us a video orientation, and then you sit, and you sit. They called a bunch of people for juries -- not me -- so we sit some more. Then another pool of jurors, including me, but I was thrown back before we even left the jury area. So... sit some more.

The court's jury team are exceedingly efficient and they work to make the process as hassle free as possible. There was one gentleman who was even effusive about the whole process. It is always remarkable how one person can make a different.

And they try and make all the waiting as comfortable as possible. They play movies. (So far, we've had The Net, which, by the way, somehow didn't make the greatest hacker movie list, as somebody mentioned to me; We also saw Topper with Cary Grant; and then, after lunch, it was National Treasury vs Flight Plan. National Treasure won.) They even have a business center with a copy machine and -- shock -- a fax machine. (There is proof that technologies never die.)

For me... I just thank the technology gods for laptops and wireless connections. It has allowed me to get some work done from here. Also, and again thank goodness for technology, I'm following a recommendation that David Pogue gave us at FCW's CIO Summit: Netflix lets you stream many movies right from your computer. So I was able to watch several episodes of the first season of NBC's 30 Rock, which served as an excellent distraction. I also got to listen to an episode of the NPR quiz show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Ah -- iPods and Podcasts. (How did we deal with things such as jury duty before all these technologies? Books or something?)

In the end, I didn't have to serve on a jury, so it just ended up being a whole lot of waiting. I did get some work done... and there are only 730 days until I'll be back here again.

So... tomorrow, back to my real job.

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jan 24, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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