Jury duty in Memphis: The loneliest room in the world.

One day in late October I got a phone call from my Dad at work. He wanted to know if it was ok to open a letter addressed to me from a Shelby County government office….um, sure?

It was a summons for jury duty here in Memphis.


I was given a notice to haul myself down to the Cook Convention Center for the “cattle call”  to choose the week that I wanted to serve within the next two months. Sure! Sounds like fun *sarcasm*.

Actually….err, it wasn’t all that bad. A few days after my 28th birthday in early November, I took a few hours off from work and drove downtown, along with the 2,000 or so citizens of Shelby County to sit in a huuuuuge room and listen to Mr. Clyde Carson rattle off rules and regulations about choosing a week for jury duty. Pretty much look at your calendar, listen to the week that is called, stand up, go queue up in line, and hope that you get a little that has the chose date and you can go. If you don’t get a card, sit back down.
It was a pretty easy process, and I chose the week of January 24th-28th, 2011 to serve on jury duty.

Speed forward past the holidays, and here we are Sunday night, January 23rd. I went to bed early, and made sure I had my computer/book/purse ready to go,  and double checked my alarm a few 100 times to make sure I won’t oversleep. I made it to the Shelby County Jury Commission Building in time(with Cafe Eclectic coffee and scone in hand) and picked a seat. Picture a room filled with theater seats and bad wood paneling et voila-“the loneliest room in the world.”

Promptly at 8:30, Mr. Carson strode in to the building with his assistant, and began the 2.5 hour orientation. Rules, dos and don’ts, times, and a quick history of the court system in Memphis made the morning somewhat go by faster.  He tried to throw in some humor every once and while, and that did help those that were nervous(me). Roll was called(many Jones’s, Smith’s, and Brown’s in my group), and he called over 120 people to be selected in the first “round” of jurors before lunch. I walked to the Blue Plate Cafe downtown with a friend(whose husband works with me) for lunch, and my name was finally called at 2pm to go next door to 201, Div 10, Judge Beasley.

His name was familiar to me…oh, right, the Lester Street murder case. GREAT I AM BEING SEQUESTERED! We sat outside the lobby of the court room for about 30 minutes, and then lead in to begin the voir dire process. To make a long story short(and three hours later), my name wasn’t picked, and I was told to return the next morning.

I got to the Jury Commission building at 9:30am and immediately noticed the crowd had significantly decreased. I worked on a crossword puzzle, read a lot of my book, and then after not being called for two groups, was told to go home. And with that, my jury duty service was done for another ten years.

Overall, I didn’t mind the experience. I saw parts of downtown that I never really see or really paid much attention to before–not many really WANT to be at 201 Poplar. I thought Court Square looked nice (during the day), and liked being around the hustle and bustle of the courthouse area. You just have to be positive about your day, expect long hours, wear comfy clothing, and bring a book.

Ever since I got my jury duty summons, my mother(at 64) reminded me constantly that she has yet to be called to serve.