This heatwave we are having makes me remember the first time I was on a jury in 1973. I was supposed to come the first two weeks of July, but that is a real busy time at work and so I filled out the jury questionnaire and figured I would not be called. A couple of weeks later I got a phone call from someone at the courthouse asking if there was a time when I was not so busy, and I said yes August is a slow month at work, so she said pick two weeks to come for jury duty. I picked the first two weeks of August, bad choice I found out later.
First Monday in August at 8 am the jury orientation began in a huge courtroom, one of the superior court judges welcomed us and talked a little, before we watched a 16mm film of Raymond Burr telling why juries are so important, and what was going to happen while we were on jury duty. One part I remember was his section on proper clothing, because we were in a courthouse and should dress accordingly. That dress code took a beating by the last day we were in court.
Then we went to the jury waiting room, and every so often a bailiff came in and read of a list of names and they marched out to a courtroom. I finally got called about 10:30 and we went to the third floor and sat in the hall while the bailiff came out every few minutes saying they were not quite ready for us yet. Half an hour later the bailiff came out and said the defendant pleaded and we were not needed so back to the jury waiting room, just in time for the lunch break. After lunch on our own back waiting for another jury call. Somewhere after 4, I was called again, and we got right in the courtroom, stayed for the jury selection and did not get picked on that jury. We were so late getting done that we did not have to call in for Tuesday. Wednesday our group was to come to the fourth floor of the courthouse and be ready for jury selection at 1 pm. It was 90 that day and the courthouse did not have any air conditioning then. The courtroom was on the north side of the fourth floor, so not real hot, but there were a lot of perspective jurors. I was juror number 48 of 50. Well I made that jury, and we were to be on the fourth floor on Thursday at 9 am, not sure which courtroom, or which judge but be here at 9 am.
Because of the hot courthouse and no air conditioning most of the Superior Court judges would take their vacations in August, so we had Judge Phillip Thompson a pro tem judge. Criminal cases had to be prosecuted within I think it was 60 days, so we had a pro tem judge, and was in a small courtroom on the fourth floor. It was the only courtroom being used on the fourth floor so they left the hall door open and all the windows on the north side created a nice chimney effect as the warm air rose from below and out the windows in our courtroom.
The trial was a third degree rape trial where the defendant had been charged with drugging the girl at a bar and taking her to her home and trying to rape her. Two other witnesses also said the defendant had done the same thing with them. Each day it got a little bit warmer.
Notice I said we were to be there by 9 am, well we had 11 jurors by 9 am and a very nervous bailiff kept checking to see if number 12 had arrived yet. The bailiff was a student from our local law school, and a great summer job for a law student. Turned out we did not get in the courtroom till 10 am anyway, so the late juror did not make any difference. Listened to witnesses all day Thursday and Friday except for big breaks and a two hour lunch on our own. Friday at 9 we had 11 jurors and a nervous bailiff again, but number 12 showed up long before we got in the courtroom. Dress code was getting a beating as everyone dressed to keep cool. Finished all the witnesses Friday afternoon, and only the defendant was to testify on Monday, so back at 9 on Monday. Each day was getting a little warmer so by Monday it was about 95 outside, and probably about the same in the courthouse.
Monday at 9 am, 11 jurors, but we did not get in the courtroom till 10 again. Found out later the lawyers were arguing every morning over the trial, so we sat in the jury room waiting. The jury room had one vent fan in the ceiling near one end of the room, and they allowed smoking in the jury rooms then. We had 6 smokers on the jury and sat them under the vent fan.
Listened to the defendant, had a recess, then the lawyers summations, and the judges instructions and was in the jury room when the bailiff came in and said before we started deliberating we could either have sandwiches brought in or could walk over to the Black Angus Restaurant a few blocks from the courthouse. A quick 12 votes for the Black Angus. We had to stay together so use the restrooms in the jury room. Then we walked over to the Black Angus. We sat in the back away from the river view, and they gave us a courthouse menu. We ate and back to the courthouse. Deliberated for a couple of hours before we came to a verdict, and when they opened the doors of the jury room it felt cold in the hallway of the courthouse, which should have been in the 90s. Took them a while to get everyone back in the courtroom, and so there we sat in the jury room. Not sure how hot that jury room was, but very little air movement with the doors closed.
Back in the courtroom and we announced our guilty verdict, the judge thanked us, and we left. The rest of August was close to normal so picking the first two weeks I hit the hottest days. A few days later a small article in our newspaper said the defendant got 30 days in jail, and had already spent 20 some days so we spent almost as much time in the jury room as he had left to serve.
Four more times I got called on jury duty, served on three more juries, but was never picked to serve on a jury on a Monday, always later in the first week.