I had jury duty on Thursday and Friday in one of New York City's finest jury holding rooms. When I got the summons I thought it was for a different location than the last time I went, in 2001, but when I got to the jury room it was the same place as before. We had to arrive at 8:45 AM on Thursday morning, and it wasn't until close to 9:30 that they showed us the juror orientation video with Ed Bradley and Diane Sawyer giving us a history of the court system, what happens in a courtroom, and so on. The best (or worst) part of the video was at the beginning. They show you a medieval "trial by ordeal" where they throw the defendant into a lake. The judicial theory was that if the accused floated, he or she was innocent. It looked like they filmed that part of the video somewhere in upstate New York, but for all I know they shot it in Central Park. After that, we sat around the jury room until just after noon, when they sent us out for a two-hour lunch. Yesterday I went to New Green Bo on Bayard St. to try the tong po pork (based on Alex Balk's recommendation). It was a platter of fatty pork over bok choy, smothered in some kind of tangy sauce, served with buns. It's not haunting my dreams the way it haunts Balk's, but it was tasty. After lunch I wandered around Chinatown for a while, then went back to the jury room. They let us go around 3:30 on Thursday and told us to come back at 10 AM today.
I got back to the courthouse right at 10 and waited half an hour before they did a roll call. Then it was two more hours of reading and surfing on my laptop (the courthouse has free Internet access now, albeit with some web filters -- for example, I could read blogs and post comments, but I couldn't sign into Blogger to write posts on my own blog) before they gave us another two-hour lunch break. This time I went to Au Bon Pain, then killed an hour at J&R Music. They were having a sale on EMI classical CD reissues, so I picked up some Vivaldi violin concertos, the complete Saint-Saens piano concertos, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, and some Beethoven piano trios. I should not be allowed to shop on my lunch break. I got back to the courthouse right at 2 PM, and about 20 minutes later they said we were dismissed with credit for two days of service and we wouldn't have to come back for at least four years. A few people wanted to know why they couldn't have told us we were dismissed before lunch. I didn't care. But I am a little disappointed that we were never called for any trials. I would have liked to see some courtroom action. I did get two days off work with pay, which is always a good thing. And my public service is fulfilled until well into the 2nd Clinton administration.