I’ve Been Summoned to Atlantic County Jury Duty in a Covid World
"Dad", my son said as he brought the mail in the house, "I think you've got jury duty."
Well, it's been quite a while - probably 15 years - so I guess it's "my turn" again.
The last time I was called for jury duty - in an Atlantic City courtroom - I actually was selected to be on the jury for a trial. This despite my efforts to get turned down by emphasizing that I'm "in the media" and on the radio each morning.
As I remember it, the defendant was facing drug and weapons charges. While he was being questioned on the stand by the prosecutor, he accidentally stuck his foot in his mouth and implicated himself in the crime. Minutes after that happened, the trial was stopped, a plea bargain was negotiated and we, the jury, were sent home.
Getting back to my jury summons letter, it looks like I need to report for duty in late November. According to the letter, I need to fill out an online questionnaire, and then I'll be contacted by a jury staff member who'll go over the next steps with me.
In this COVID world, jury trials are just starting up again, and social distancing and safety are key words.
The jury pool will initially all check in virtually - through Zoom or something similar. Once the jury pool is whittled down, a smaller group will be invited to the courthouse for "the final phase of selection and a socially distanced in-person trial.
Masks, cleaning, washing, social distancing and more will, of course, be part of the trial, too.
So, the world stopped for the pandemic, but it's not stopping forever. Just another part of life getting rolling again.