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Ask Chicagoist: Facing Jury Duty

By Sarah in Miscellaneous on Dec 16, 2005 5:55PM

jury_boxtiny.jpgI have looked around on the internet but I have been unable to find any information about jury duty in Chicago let alone specifically at 2650 S. California Avenue (isn't that where the Cook County prison is?) The summons to appear lists a bunch of details and says "BRING CHANGE FOR THE VENDING MACHINES. PLEASE DRESS APPROPRIATELY, SHORTS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE." (emphasis theirs)

So, can Chicagoist help me? I have never done this before and I have never had a run-in with the law so I don't know what to expect. While I am pleased to do my civic duty I'd rather go in prepared. Is parking available? Is the vending machine food any good? And on top of it all I now have to pick something out to wear.


Dearest Ed,
We're thrilled to learn that you are pleased to do your civic duty! However, we are a bit dismayed that you were considering wearing shorts for such an occasion. Not only is it way past Labor Day, and you are presumably an Adult, it's just really, really cold out there. We like our readers' legs fully thawed.

But thanks for your letter. Judging from the confusion and misinformation we gathered from a casual poll of our friends, you are certainly not alone in your anxiety about this most important duty to your community (after voting, of course!) To answer your immediate questions: Cook County Courthouse and the prison are next door to each other, which must be convenient in some circumstances, we suppose, but shouldn't really have much to do with your visit. One friend assures us that parking is available at that site. We've also heard some compelling, if unsubstantiated, rumors regarding a truly awe-inspiring video that is shown to potential jurors. And our sources agree that the cuisine available in Cook County's vending machine "sucks hard". (Your mother asked us to remind you that VM foods are generally unhealthy and awful, so why not pack a nice samwich and lots of fresh fruits to snack on? There are loads of holiday cookies floating around, too, as a treat!) We were surprised that the summons would suggest bringing vending machine $$$ instead of suggesting that you pack "food." Perhaps the influence of Cheetos and Snickers help the lawyers see the true tendencies of the jury pool.

About your outfit. Hm... this connects to your general Jury Duty strategy. If you really want to do your civic duty, then dress like a responsible, trustworthy, and sensible person. (We don't actually know anyone like this, so are unable to describe how they dress, sorry!) But if you want to get out of the gig, then dress wildly inappropriately (ie, the shorts) just to see what happens. Of course, Chicagoist's got style, and we bet you do too, so we're sure you'll find something civic-minded and just-right. [Orange is the New Black, FYI]

Super-duper most importantly: BRING SOMETHING TO READ. We suggest at least four books and a handful of magazines (with articles, ahem!). Just don't make a bunch of noise, and if you're an I-pod user, keep the volume Low. Apparently most of the day (or days, depending on the caseload, and your luck, and the day of the week) is spent sitting on a bench in a room with many other people, unsure of what is about to happen. (Its like a CTA car, stopped on the tracks, with no announcement. Not a time to be without some quality reading.) We suggest borrowing books For Free from that other great civic institution: the Chicago Public Library. Write and tell us how it goes (and about that video!)! And thanks for doing your duty.

Got civic ants in your pants? Need some advice? Email Ask(at)Chicagoist(dot)com!