Jury Duty!

Just got my check from Jury Duty!

My official juror I.D. badge in front of the court house.

I served for 2 weeks in February. I’m “between jobs” right now so it was kind of the perfect time for it to happen. It was a civil federal case brought by a daycare against the Department of Health. The daycare claimed they’d been shut down as retaliation for a letter they’d written their state senator (which would be a violation of their first amendment rights, hence why it was in Federal Court) whereas the DOH claimed the daycare had been shut down for numerous violations.

The whole process was fascinating. I was called with upwards of 100 people to report that first morning, jury selection was happening for 3 cases. Mine was the 3rd case to do selections and 40 of us went up, from that pool 16 (including me) people were called to the jury bench to answer specific and sometimes weird questions about ourselves and our friends and family. One guy knew one of the defendants and he got dismissed right away, replaced by one of the waiting 40 in the gallery. It’s a surreal experience to discuss yourself with 50 strangers, and to also hear about the lives of a dozen other people.

In the end I and 7 others were  selected. Our jury had 6 women and 2 men (though one of the men left after the first week as his boss wouldn’t pay him for the days he would miss and he needed the money). The only white people were myself and 2 of the other women. Many of the jurors had immigrated here. It was wonderful, a really great mix of people.

The trial itself was largely repetitive but it had it’s characters — like the man who insisted on being called Doctor even though he only had an honorary doctorate — and entertaining moments — like when the attorneys wouldn’t listen to the judge and things got heated. I learned a lot about how day cares work and how hard it is for the DOH to really keep an eye on things. Kids run off, get hurt, abused and sometimes even die because of it. This particular daycare had a competitive edge because it was low cost and it makes me sad to think of the choices some parents have to make. They put their trust into the DOH that these daycares are safe places and so often they’re not and the DOH just doesn’t have the resources to keep tabs on all of them.

It made me really believe we need universal, government run daycare. It’s the best chance of assuring that kids will be safe. The daycares could be standardized and run properly. Inspections would still need to happen, of course, but with every one a properly investigated, trained and certified employee shut downs would happen less often. Many of the violations this daycare had were in regards to staffing. That simply wouldn’t happen if the overseeing office made the hiring decisions.

In the end, we determined that this daycare deserved to be shut down and we found for the defendant, the DOH. Some of my fellow jurors felt guilty, but I didn’t. These people were responsible for kids, they needed to provide a safe environment and they just didn’t. Case closed.


One thought on “Jury Duty!

  1. I’m glad NYC now at least has universal pre-K. It’s a step in the right direction to helping all kids get a fair shot/proper care in life.

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