Yesterday, I had jury duty. I live in a large county, and the county seat (along with the court house) is about 30 miles away. I brought a book; I always do because jury duty can be long moments of tedium followed by great frustration.
I figured I’d be home by mid-morning since the trial was a criminal one, and for some reason attorneys don’t like mystery writers on their juries. But the defendant’s car broke down (the judge said, “Yeah, right”), and we were asked to reconvene at 1:30 in the afternoon when the defendant surely would show up.
The inexperienced jurors–who had sat around for 1.5 hours looking bored–mentioned that they wished they had something to read. Most looked like they couldn’t afford to go to a nearby store and buy a book. (I live in a poor region of my state.)
The jury coordinator, who has apparently heard this before, gave them all directions to the library. They could get a card because they were residents of the county.
When I got back to the courthouse at 1, I found a dozen people with JUROR buttons, reading library books. Now that was a cool moment.
(What were they reading? Thomas Harris, Danielle Steele, and Orson Scott Card. Scott’s book, Ender’s Game, is the City of Newport’s book of the month. The entire town (which is where the court house is) is being encouraged to read the book and discuss it in April. Fantastic, right? I think so.)