Our network

Jury Duty Tales from a 10 News photographer (Part 1) | People

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Jury Duty Tales from a 10 News photographer (Part 1)
Jury Duty Tales from a 10 News photographer (Part 1)

If you have ever been called up for jury duty, it is nothing like being called up to the majors. Especially in Tampa, at the George E Edgecomb courthouse in downtown.

At 7:30 in the morning it has the feeling of a cattle call. From the moment you walk to the building you are greeted by panhandlers scoping you out passing out brochures or asking for money.

Followed by a man with a megaphone blaring in the background telling everyone they have sinned and will pay for their sins.

A line has formed at the security gates with three to four metal detectors. Many are beginning to shed their metal while others are scratching their eyes still trying to scrape out the weekend sleepies.

As I make my way through you can spot those who have been here before and certainly those who have not. The newbies (myself included) are found wandering around the lobby trying to find signs to the jury check-in area. Like sheephearders, deputies guide folks to their designated area on the second floor.

Once I made myself upstairs it is now 7:40 a.m., I was greeted with another pleasant surprise, another line. I couldn't tell if I was at a doctors office or a theme park waiting for my fast-pass time to be up.

The three greeters sit with a blank expression as they check jurors in. Those who have not filled out their paperwork are seen scattered around the room searching for something to write with or a flat surface to fill in their information on the form.

I make my way through the line and overhear one of the greeters say to another one, "you would think these people would actually read the paperwork before coming."

Once I find my way through I make my way to an empty chair. It is now 7:55 a.m. I have my choice, a bench like seat, a table to work, or a desk type of area for those with computers to use. Since I am only armed with my Blackberry and notebook today I choose a seat.

And like most Americans, I chose a spot with some extra space. As I sit many of those around me do the same. God forbid we actually sit next to one another.

Now we all wait...

Wait till we hear our name of number called. Wait what was my number again? We shall see.

A few minutes later around 8 a.m., a second large wave of jurors check in all with the same lost look on their faces. Many are armed with their favorite cell phone, PDA or Smart phone, droid or whatever the flavor of the month is.

Very few make eye contact or acknowledge the person seated next or around them in this increasingly filling room.

The discomfort is kinda fun to watch as folks pick and choose the person they now are forced to sit next to. Some choose similar race, others gender some even social class. In a corner next to the desk-like section I see two men in suits and expensive watches chumming it up. Most others do not even acknowledge the person now seated adjacent to them.

You can hear a cough or sneeze almost every second. Hang on a second I have to do my part. It resembles the flash bulbs you see at a Superbowl. One hits every mili-second during kick-off.

Around 8:20 a.m., name after name is called, maybe mine will be. But somehow I doubt it. For now I wait...

Jury Duty Tales Part 2


Hillsborough County Deals

Hillsborough County Businesses