I recently received a summons for jury duty. That really didn’t take long: I’ve been back in the city for less than a year, and already, I’ve been “randomly selected.” During my five years in the suburbs, somehow I never ended up getting selected. I can’t complain, however; if frequent jury selection is the price for not living on a soulless cul-de-sac in the suburbs, I’ll take that trade off any day of the week.
I checked around Google to find out if I could bring my phone, PDA (a Blackberry), and my laptop. When I was called in 2005, when I last lived in the city, I was allowed to bring in a laptop with an EVDO card. However, these devices weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are now, and there was a plethora of conflicting information on Google.
So, I decided to go to the source. Here’s the email I sent to the court system:
I have jury duty coming up. I’ve checked online and have found conflicting advice about whether or not laptops and mobile devices are allowed during the jury selection waiting period at 1301 Filbert Street. Last time I had jury duty at this location in 2005, I was allowed to bring my laptop, but they’ve become much more prevalent since then. So, a few questions:
(1) Are laptops allowed?
(2) Are Blackberries / iPhones allowed with the phone service turned on?
(3) If not, are Blackberries / iPhones allowed with the phone service turned off (silent mode, for playing music, for example)?
I was very impressed when I received a reply within an hour from Gail T. Blair, a Court Administrator Officer; I was even more pleased when I read the content of the reply:
Yes, laptops are permitted and may be used during your down time.
Yes, Blackberries/iPods are permitted and may be used doing down time.
Yes, cell phones are permitted but must be turned off.
There’s the response, from the horse’s mouth. It sounds like you can’t talk on your phone, but can keep it silenced, and use silent PDA operations (texting, Twittering, browsing, listening to music through headphones). It doesn’t sound like they have any problems with laptops, either. This should make jury duty much more bearable.
Another tip: the days of donuts, coffee and bagels being put out are gone as well. Bring snacks, as the perks of donuts, coffee and bagels for jurists was slashed during a round of city budget cuts.