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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Jury Duty with Parkinson's Disease

The notice arrived in early May. It was a juror questionnaire form, asking me to respond online. I could have asked one of my doctors to write me an excuse but I did not. I think I would like to serve on a jury. I never have. The notice said I may be called any time after July 1st.

On August 11th, I get my Official Summons in the mail. I am to report at 8:15 AM on August 20th. I am a tad bit excited. Maybe it will be a murder trail, or a bank robbery or something else interesting. 

Here comes the Judge...Jury Duty Summons

Soon I realize that I will have to get up early enough to take my thyroid pill on an empty stomach, wait 30 minutes to eat my breakfast, take my Parkinson's disease pill and get dressed in business casual type clothes. My typical hot weather attire of shorts and tank tops are not allowed.  

I also hadn't factored in the thirty minute drive down there or what I was going to do about my second meal of the day. On a normal day, I eat breakfast around 10 AM and then Wonderful Husband cooks us a big meal which we eat about 2 PM and at night we have a salad, or cheese, or snack on some fruit. All of a sudden, Jury Duty was losing its humorous appeal.

The morning comes, I get up when the alarm goes off at 6 AM, get ready, and pack a peanut butter sandwich and fill my Yeti cup with ice and water. Since Wonderful Hubby and I are together 98% of the time, we only have one cell phone, so I leave it at home with him. The other 2% of the time, one of us is using the bathroom (hee-hee.) I park in the courthouse garage, grab my sweater (in case it's cold in court) and walk to the entrance. It's 8 AM and already 90° outside. 


Yuma County Courthouse

I walk through the entrance doors and feel like I'm at the airport screening. People are taking off their belts, watches and emptying their pockets. Bags, briefcases and purses go through the scanner and people walk through the metal detector. I stand to the side and tell them I have a pace-maker type device. It's easier than trying to explain my DBS implant. I get the hand wand treatment instead.

I show my ID and sit down in a large room with about 250 other people. There are TV screens everywhere, all tuned to a channel devoted to houses; remodeling, selling or buying bigger homes. After 10 minutes of that, I am bored, so I people watch instead. There are twice as many men than women and more in their 40's than in their 20's. I see one obviously very pregnant lady with a toddler in tow, two people on crutches and only a few with gray hair. There are quite a few with tattoos, piercings and bright hair colors of blue, green or purple.

A bailiff comes in, asks everyone to stand and introduces the Judge. The Judge has us all raise our right hands and puts us all under oath. He then tells us it will be a medical malpractice civil trial (yuck) and they hand out forms for us to fill out. After we fill them out, we can leave. If we don't hear anything, we are to report on the date listed on the form.

I realize now that I have a problem, my handwriting is so terrible, I can't even read it myself. Most of the pages have yes or no boxes to check, so that's okay. Then there is a page with the trial dates listed; three whole weeks in September and early October. They want to know if I am unavailable on any of those dates and if so, why. I don't have our cell phone with the calendar on it, so I don't have a clue what may be scheduled a month from now. I can't remember what I'm doing tomorrow or next week without checking my calendar! 

I see the first Monday in October is listed and realize that's our Parkinson Support Group meeting day. I manage to scribble why I can't serve on that date. I also scribble that due to Parkinson's, I'm not sure I could be in court every day, from 8 to 5 for three weeks in a row. By the time I finally get the form done, all of the other 250 people are in a line to leave. I am the very last person to hand my form in. I ask the bailiff to make sure he can read my Parkinson's scribble. It's only 10 AM and I'm on my way home and I am completely exhausted. What was I thinking?? I should have asked my doctor for a medical excuse. There's a huge difference between being at home all day and being in court all day. 

Once I get home and check my calendar, I find out  my step-daughter is coming to visit, I have a Doctors appointment and a teleconference all scheduled during those three weeks of trial dates. All I can do is wait and see. If I have to go, I will try to explain to the Judge why I didn't fill out the form when I was there. 

The phone rings a week prior to the trial start date, I don't recognize the number, so when the man at the other end begins to mumble quickly, I just hung up. I did a Google search on the number and realized it was the Court. I called back and was told that I did NOT need to report. Problem solved. Whew!

As much as I want to fulfill my civic duty and serve on a Jury, the reality is I can not do it, either physically or mentally. I would not be able to show up on time, for multiple days in a row and be able to stay alert. I would not be able to take handwritten notes and I'm no longer capable of remembering complex details. When it came to deliberating, I would not be able to express my thoughts clearly and would probably come across as being drunk, stupid or both. 

Looks like the Justice system will have to get along without me and that's okay. A criminal trial might have been interesting. A medical malpractice trial would have been sad and possibly made me angry. Neither would have been funny and if it doesn't involve humor, I'm okay with missing out. 

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