Legal Grounds, near courthouse. Maywood, IL
Well, I got the letter a week or so ago saying I was a standby juror for June 27th.
So, I called the night before and, yep, I had to go in today.
It was to a courthouse in Maywood, IL – one that I’ve never been to before. I’ve had jury duty at 26th and California (lot of murder/gang trials there), as well as at the Daley Center downtown a couple (few?) times. Maywood is a bit of a haul – about 25 miles one way.
Maywood’s courthouse was pretty small – two stories and a basement (where the jury pool sat). From what the jury room foreperson detailed (what is the title?), Maywood mainly does criminal and civil lawsuits, and a good portion of the latter are settled on the day of jury selection. I guess once your back is up against the wall…
I didn’t even get to a courtroom: There were four groups; the first two groups went off in the morning. The other two – with myself included – waited until after lunch when the defendant decided on a directed verdict (judge only; no jury), so we were set free.
One of the the (many) things I found odd today was what we were told about our jury duty by the jury room foreperson (who, by the way, was great. Honest). She explained that Maywood was a small community, so they had to pull from far away to get enough for a jury pool.
Then why situate a courthouse there?
We were told in the morning that we were there for only two cases – and the jury room had approximately 80 seats, and we were at least three-quarters full.
For a max potential of 28 bodies (12 jurors plus two alternates per trial times two trials). And, as the foreperson said, a high percentage of cases were settled sans jury. Either settled out of court, or the defendant went with a trial with a judge deciding (as was my potential trial).
Seems to be a bit of overkill, but I guess better that than reaching the end of the day needing one more body…
Certain things have changed since I last was called (about two or three years ago), at least at this facility:
- Going through security, you have to empty all your pockets – including wallet.
- Going through security, you have to take off your belt (with my baggy pants, that was dicey – don’t want to [accidentally] drop trou in a courthouse).
- Cameras are still off limits, but – at least in Cook County – smart phones are allowed. (Nope, no WiFi – yet.)
- iPads are announced as being allowed. They don’t say “tablets.”
- If in the jury pool, you can now bring food, drink and a laptop. Not if you’re on a jury, however.
These are all pretty reasonable requests – and I’m guessing the empty all pockets request is to cut down on additional screening of metal detector fails.
All in all, this was by far the best experience I’ve ever had as a potential jurist. Everyone in charge was very low-key and pleasant, and – as I’ve mentioned – the jury room foreperson made the time as painless and informed as possible.
One odd part of the day: Before we went through security for the first time, the director there mentioned that lunch could be had at a restaurant she pointed toward, about a block from the courthouse. The jury room also supplied lists of fast food locations, but this was the only place within walking distance, so it deserved mention.
So I went to the restaurant – Legal Grounds (Coffee:Bar:Grill). Haha. Get it?
Pics embedded here, but I was surprised at how disorganized this restaurant was. I was part of the wave of jurors coming over for lunch. It was like this had never happened before. Very inefficient. To their credit, they took custom requests (no butter), but it was presented backwards: I ordered a turkey club, and they rattled off all that was on it and asked what I wanted included. It should be, “Can I have that with extra mayo?” from the customer unprompted. Their method slowed the whole process – and I’m sure a lot of courthouse customers have small windows for lunch.
And halfway through my turkey club, I realized it had no bacon.
I didn’t even ask if this was a bug or a feature – it was good, but … it’s spozed to be a club sandwich. Bippity boppity bacon!
Was a nice place, next to a river with outdoor tables overlooking same. But a train wreck if you just want food and now. On the other hand, the ice tea I got was real tea – two shots, like espresso – chilled with water added (I watched the woman make it). Very good. Maybe I was dehydrated or something, but it was excellent.
I don’t think I’ve ever said that about ice tea before.
Well, that’s that for another year.