Jury Duty

Nadja Maril
3 min readMay 30


Waiting. Sitting in a chair, a numbered chair, I am waiting in the Jury Room at the Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse in Annapolis, Maryland.

Doing my civic duty, I’ve reported prior to 8:00 a.m. for Jury Duty.

We’ve all been told exactly where to sit, once we’ve given our name and signature, and received our cash and parking vouchers. I tuck three crisp ten-dollar bills into my wallet.

Bring reading material, the directions suggested. You may have to wait a long time. I’ve brought three New Yorker Magazines I haven’t had time to read. But there is a big screen video playing a few rows ahead.

These screens are distributed around the room so everyone can watch the show about the state of Pennsylvania followed by another about the state of Massachusetts. I wonder how the woman at the end of the row is managing to read her book.

I feel like I’m at the doctor’s office or the dentist’s office, forced to watch a show I don’t want to see. An energetic salesman most have sold these set-ups to every office in the country that has clients waiting, assuring them the public loves these things. I don’t. Being forced to listen to the audio of the program is annoying.

The chief bailiff makes her announcements from a microphone behind a podium. She treats us like children, asking us to repeat loudly back to her the answers to the information she has just provided. Fortunately, she gives us lots of breaks to walk around, get a snack, use the restroom. The chairs are stiff. I keep getting up to stretch.

I read despite the background noise. In addition to the video narration, there’s coughing, paper rustling and the snores of the man in the row ahead who keeps falling asleep.

We are told to stay in our assigned seats, but one woman has found a comfortable chair near the window for reading. At the one conference table a man is playing a game of solitaire with a deck of cards he must have brought with him. Many people have brought thermoses of coffee and bottles of water, chips and cookies. I brought nothing but my magazines and writing pad, convinced that being so close to Memorial Day, there will be no new trials and thus no need for jurors.

I am correct and a little past 11:00 a.m. we are released. Free to go home and told we do not have to bother checking in the remainder to the week. I clap my hands, whisper thank you, and the room breaks out into applause. Our service is complete.

It seems an archaic system, but I can’t think of any other way the county can consistently assemble a jury pool to be available when needed. If I were ever involved in a trial that required a jury, I’d be thankful people responded to their summons. A big part of life is showing up.

Thank you to everyone who has ever served on a jury.

Two great films come to mind when I think about jury trials, Twelve Angry Men (1957) and Runaway Jury (2003). The push and pull of strangers trying to work together to reach a verdict or the idea of trying to second-guess how various individuals will react to a particular case provides rich material for writers. Writing Prompt: Create one character, a juror who doesn’t agree with the others. Describe them in detail and show by their language and gestures how they frustrate their colleagues. Write a scene with them interacting with one other juror. Maybe you’ll get an idea for a story from the scene.

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Originally published at http://nadjamaril.com on May 30, 2023.



Nadja Maril

Writer, Poet, Author and Dreamer.