“Jury Duty in Bexar County: Reasons to be Grateful for the Experience”

Finally, the night before jury duty, I decided to let  go of whining and complaining about the impending experience and just be my normal “go with the flow”  self.  Shocking as this confession may sound to some of you: After moving back to Texas in 1998, I had avoided jury duty for 11 years by simply NOT registering to vote.  There wasn’t anyone I cared about seeing get elected, and being an entrepreneur, I definitely could NOT afford the time away from the office.

Once Obama got elected, I was so thrilled to have someone I felt I could believe in, that I decided I’d better “bite the bullet” and register to vote for 2012 (just in case the world DIDN’T come to an end) and I needed to help re-elect Obama.

Anyway… back to my story…

The Monday night before my new adventure into Bexar County jurisprudence, I was sitting at the front yard patio table enjoying the last rays of sunshine with Uncle Ernie.  My octogenarian next-door-neighbor and playmate turned to me and said, “So have you got your face fixed for jury duty yet?” (Translation:  Had I adjusted my attitude sufficiently?)

“Yes,” I replied determinedly.  “I decided to just make the most of it.”

“Goooooooooood,” he drawled and gave me one of his infamous Evil Chesire cat grins.

The next morning, I awoke early, thanks to the demise of Daylight Savings time.  I got ready quickly and made it to the bus stop early.

One of the newest features of the revised Bexar County Jury Duty  process is:  Your jury summons comes with a free round-trip bus ticket.  Since I live right on the 34/42 bus routes, I have a quick twelve-minute trip to La Villita, the main downtown transfer point.

The third “happy occurrence” was the early morning walk along the San Antonio River, between Villita and Dolorosa.  Those of you who read my blog regularly know I walk along the River all the time with Uncle Ernie, just not this part, the “touristy” part, as we locals refer to it.

We walk the uninhabited paths south of downtown, by Blue Star Art Complex and the HEB headquarters at the Arsenal.  We’re used to quiet walks, beautiful aquatic scenery and an abundance of water fowl.

Lo and behold!  This downtown walk was tranquility to the nth degree.  The only affront to my serene sensibilities was one poor fool on a cell phone, too wrapped up in “business” to live.

The walkway was spotless, unlike the southern stretches of the River.  The colors of the flowers outside the hotels were breath-taking.  A lone grebe gazed forlornly from a cypress tree, not four feet away from me, as if to say, “What are you doing up so early?”

What a contrast this scenario was from the time back in 1998 when I brought my friend, Marilyn, to see the River for the first time.  It was a sweltering August day, wall-to-wall people swarmed the sidewalks, bumping into each other, shoving, sweating.  It was total pandemonium.

Marilyn swore she’d never come back to this, the second most popular tourist attraction IN THE WORLD.  Couldn’t say I blamed her.

Anyway… back to my jury duty story…

I arrived at the Justice Center and was directed to the basement by one of San Antonio’s finest.  She could tell I was confused.  The last time I served on a jury had to be in the 1980’s, and that was in North or South Carolina.  Can’t remember which.

Right away I was impressed with how smoothly everything ran… definitely a first for me in dealing with the City.   Even though the lines were long, they moved rapidly.  A personable, yet confident woman named Melly introduced our judge, the Honorable Soloman Casseb, III.  He quickly corrected her.

“Call me Sol.  The only Judge Solomon Casseb was my father, who passed away two weeks ago at the age of 94.”

He proceeded to enthrall us with tales from his father’s illustrious career and that of other notable justices from Texas history, like Judge Reeves, who served his entire career from a wheelchair.  His 10-minute tribute to his dad was met with a round of applause.

Wow!  This going-with-the-flow stuff really works!”  I smiled inwardly.  Who would’ve expected a free motivational talk as an intro to jury duty?

Judge Casseb proceeded to explain the finer points of jury duty: what an honor it is, how important a service we are performing, how much he appreciated us.  ( I was feeling more and more grateful by the minute.)

Finally he explained who was NOT allowed to serve and who had the right to an exemption.  After that rousing welcome and pep talk, I was shocked when anyone got in line to be excused.

So now I’m waiting in this comfortable chair… at this cozy table, having not been selected for either of the first two jury panels.

But the cappuchino from the cafeteria across the hall was good.  And, I did see fresh fruit over there, too, so I know it’s not all snack food.

Who knows what the rest of the day will bring? I’m just going with the flow.

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