Jury Duty in Seattle, March 2014

This marked my second summons in Seattle. The first one was as serendipitous as these things get: I was freshly unemployed and had no immediate prospects, meaning that being part of a jury (which I was, in the end) wasn’t a major disruption to my life. Having to tell unemployment to deduct the mighty $40 I was paid for my four days of service was a little galling, but the rest was fine. Well, except for being the alternate – that sucks, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Otherwise, though, I’d recommend it to anyone. If you’re a person possessed of even faint curiosity, it’s a fascinating lesson in civics.

However, this time? I have a job, I am forever short on vacation time and my company doesn’t pay for jury duty, I was in the middle of finals at school, and I had an impending trip to San Francisco. The night before jury duty, I fretted myself a little sick as I thought about everything that could go wrong. A three-week civil trial. Going without a paycheck. Getting no sleep as I rushed to finish work, do homework, and keep some semblance of a life during a modern-day version of the O.J. Simpson trial. Missing my SF trip. Ruining oh my god literally everything.

Maybe you found your way here by searching “municipal court seattle jury duty service.” And if you did, I have good news for you: being called to municipal court means you have only two days in the pool, and cases generally don’t run longer than three or four days. Cheers!

You also get to experience this:

view of smith tower and downtown seattle from the municipal courtAfter the extremely patriotic video explaining everything you forgot from eighth-grade civics class, a very proud woman will tell you about her predecessor, who fought very hard for a nice place for potential jurors to rest between selections. This – THIS – is the view from the little outlet-heavy desk area in the north of that space.

And, if you’re lucky enough not to have to work, THIS is the view from the main space, where I wish I could’ve sat and read for hours.

jury room at the seattle municipal courtRight?

But maybe you were like me and many others, and jury duty fell during a real pain-in-the-ass time. I am here to tell you that there are ways to make the most of this.

By “ways,” to be clear, I mean “food.”*

il corvo seattleI put out an all-call on Facebook asking for lunch recommendations in the vicinity of the courthouse. A friend, guided by angels and with all the goodness in the world behind her, suggested Il Corvo. Holy sweet goddamn: fresh pasta with a menu that changes daily, depending on what they can get at the market.

The highest compliment I can give food is when I close my eyes so that I have one less sense to distract me from tasting what I’m eating. I did that a couple different times as I chowed down on my tagliarini in celery root, sage, and brown butter cream. If I had it to do over, I’d get the kale salad too. If I hadn’t needed to be a sober citizen of service, I would’ve gotten a little carafe of wine to go with it all. They’re only open for lunch on weekdays. Take a day off and go, if you don’t work close to 2nd and James.

And yet, after that, I still went to Piroshki on 3rd. I mean, come on.

piroshki on 3rd seattleTo be precise, I came here to grab a couple of these for class later that night. They were mighty, mighty fine. I still miss Piroshki on Broadway. I will always love you, piroshki.

On the way back to the courthouse, I walked by my favorite building in Seattle, the Arctic Building.

Arctic Building in SeattleI don’t like organizations of white men who gather to exclusively toast their success, but I do like their architecture.

So yes, you can have a fine day of jury duty. Get some good food, ogle some buildings you don’t see too often. Oh, and, uh, check out some fine art paid for by your hard-earned tax dollars.

seattle municipal court artI didn’t get picked. Indeed, I was specifically rejected from the one jury pool I was a part of, something I found confusing but weirdly pleasing. Also a relief – during voir dire, there were a lot of questions about domestic violence, victims who won’t press charges, and the implications of a black defendant facing a jury made entirely of white people, something I’d noticed and felt uneasy about. I hope to complete this life without looking at pictures of injuries in a courtroom; I’ve made it this far successfully.

I would be ok with doing it again someday, but ideally at a time when I didn’t spend an hour in bed panicking about it upsetting the tenuous balance of my life. And I hope you get to too.

*This entry would be longer, but I got released after just a day of service. Hallelujah!**

**Total lie, I would’ve just gone to Il Corvo again!