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« Back from NYC | Main | Jury duty in Toronto - Day 3 »
Thursday
Jan292009

Jury duty in Toronto - Day 4

HungJury_0056

Some helpful tips for those who get called for jury duty in the downtown courthouse (361 University Ave):

Wear layers. Temperature varies, depending on what room you find yourself in. I've found rooms to be on the warm side.

If you're like me and tend to eat lunch earlier than later, bring something to eat. Lunch here isn't usually until 1 pm. We have an hour and are allowed to go outside during this time as long as we're back at 2 pm sharp.

JuryRoom3

If you have a laptop and need Internet access, show up early to make sure you get a carrel near the window. There are about 14 carrels in the main jury room on the first floor, each with a power outlet. The carrels are reserved for people with laptops and are first-come, first-served.The main room opens at 8:30 am each day, so I usually show up just before that, even if my group doesn't have to be there until an hour later.

Bring an extension cord in case you don't get a seat near a power outlet. Check to make sure your extension cord has the right number of prong holes as your laptop power cord.

Depending on the case you're called for, you may be put in one of the upstairs rooms after jury selection. These are smaller than the main room, have fewer power outlets and fewer tables. I wasn't able to get Internet access when I was there, but then again I wasn't able to get a seat near a window.

Internet access is not free. You can get wireless access through One Zone. Current cost is $9.95/day or $29/month. These prices do not include GST and PST. I found wireless access flaky sometimes, usually when the room was very crowded.

Bad Juror

Make copies of your Juror Summons form. This ordinary-looking piece of paper is pretty important, and losing it would be Bad. You have to show your Summons form at least twice a day (morning check-in then after lunch check-in).

Keep your Juror Summons form after the case is over. You're not supposed to be called for jury duty for three years after you've served but slip-ups happen; we've been advised to keep the forms so we can prove that we've already served. I don't understand why they can't cross-check with the info they have in their computers but hey, I'm just passing on the advice.

Bring business cards. I had vastly underestimated how many interesting people I'd be meeting during the week.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially about where you're supposed to be. I'm not the only one who has gotten confused by some of the instructions, and some of us ended up in the wrong room earlier in the week.

Expect the majority of your time to be taken up by waiting. I've been here for four days so far and have only been called to court once, and I wasn't selected. Bring things to do: novel, games (though there are some games and puzzles provided in the main first floor room), etc. Bring headphones if you're watching a movie so you don't disturb your neighbours.

Wear comfortable shoes, because inevitably some of your waiting will be done while standing up. The one time my group has been called into court, half of us had no seats so stood crowded together at the back of the courtroom (loaded down with our coats and laptops etc.) for 20-25 minutes until the judge showed up; apparently there was a technical problem causing the delay.

Don't mess with the judge's chair. :-) As we were waiting for the judge, we saw two courtroom people make minute adjustments to the judge's chair. The first person changed the rotation angle by about 2 degrees. The other (not noticing when the first person did this) changed the rotation angle back to where it was before.

There is a small cafeteria in the basement. Line-ups around lunchtime are huge, so I generally asked to be excused for about 5-10 minutes in the late morning to go down to grab a sandwich. You have to leave your Juror Summons form with the clerks while you're gone.

Be prepared for an airport security type scan upon entry each morning. Make sure you don't have any sharp objects. You'll have to empty your pockets of change.

Waiting in the courtroom: Jury Duty Day 3

Though our official hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, so far we've been released at around 4 - 4:15 pm each day. We've been warned that we may have to stay until 5 pm some days, depending on when jury selection takes place for a particular case.

Try to make the best of the situation, even if you're frustrated and bored and resentful. I'm learning a lot about the whole civil and criminal trial process in Ontario, plus I'm meeting a ton of interesting people. Like Joe Lindsey, an accountant -- we've been tending to end up in carrels near each other (he shows up early, too) and we've been collaborating on some jury duty cartoons.

BoredJurors_007

Some of the other jurors have asked me to e-mail them my/our Jury Duty cartoons, so these have been circulating this past week. :-)

As I've already mentioned, I'm flying to NYC tomorrow to meet with my agent as well as attend the SCBWI conference. I've told the jury room clerks, but they said that I couldn't officially ask to be excused on Friday until today. So this morning I let them know, but I've been told I can't ask until the end of the day (?!?). I'm somewhat baffled by why, but I'm ASSUMING that I'm going to be excused from having to come in tomorrow.

Fingers crossed.

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Reader Comments (3)

A hung jury? I see no problem as long as they are well-hung *g*...

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris C

I'm learning a lot about the whole civil and criminal trial process in Ontario, plus I'm meeting a ton of interesting people.
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