By Order of the Court

There aren’t many things that strike fear in the hearts of men (and women) quite like being served with a jury summons. Sure, a police car’s flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror is worse; a tsunami warning siren is worse. But still. The sight of that little jury card is enough to make even the bravest soul’s hair stand on end.

Especially when the card reads — usually in Big Bold Letters — SECOND NOTICE, followed by threats of dire circumstances dare you ignore the summons this time. Never mind you hadn’t received a first notice. (Is there ever a first notice?) A descendent of Vito Corleone is on his way to your house right this second with those plastic handcuffs that look like enormous trash bag twist-ties, ready to whisk you away to a secret underground world where all the other jury duty truants who came before you have since morphed into lawless Mole People and chaos reigns.


Or something along those lines.

It’s a testament to the power of that index-card sized notice that even when I realized the one I’d just pulled from our mailbox was addressed to John, my heart still leapt to my throat. Like a gag reflex. Upon examining it more closely, however, I was able to relax. As it turned out, the summons was for jury duty in Travis County, Texas.

We moved from Texas over a year ago, a fact reflected, oddly enough, on the jury summons itself. It hadn’t been mailed to our former home in Texas and consequently forwarded to our new residence here. Oh no. This card was addressed quite correctly to the house number and street where we live now, here in Jefferson County, Washington.

Already it’s creepy the Travis County Courthouse not only has access to our new address, but has automatically changed that address in its records without any type of notification from us. But I know, I know. All sorts of information about everyone everywhere, living or dead, is floating around in the ether ready for the grabbing. Yet wouldn’t you think, knowing this kind of thing happens systematically, that the powers-that-be at the courthouse could have somebody take at least a cursory glance at the jury summons cards before they stick them in the mailbag?

Apparently not. So instead, those of us who have legitimate reason not to serve on a jury in the Travis County Court’s jurisdiction are given the options of (1) calling the courthouse; or (2) going to the website listed on the card. Ever tried calling the courthouse associated with a busy, increasingly populated metropolitan area? Yeah, so have I. Which is why, when I got back to my house, I went immediately online on John’s behalf.

Like most things internet-related, the jury selection page on the site wasn’t at all on point. It was only after answering question after question — then reiterating my answers in reply to interrogatives like “Are you sure this is really, truly your current address?” and then “Are you absolutely sure?” — that John was finally dismissed of that particular civic duty.

Crazy as it sounds, in my fantasy world I’d hoped for a separate website page for those of us who were mistakenly contacted — or maybe a button with the instruction “If no longer residing in Travis County, click here.” Why I thought for one second it could be that simple, I can’t say for sure. It was nutty on my part. Hey, so sue me.

Or wait, no. Please don’t. Because if you do, and if the trial’s jurisdiction is Travis County, Texas, there’s no doubt in my mind the summons to appear — the SECOND NOTICE summons to appear — will wind up here, properly addressed, in my Jefferson County, Washington mailbox.


14 thoughts on “By Order of the Court

    • Isn’t that a hoot, Debbie? And I suspect it happens everywhere, not just Travis County. It was kind of a weird feeling, though, I’ll tell you that much. We’re all being followed!

  1. Feeling much the same. My spouse is home full time and has been for over a year. However, we law abiding citizens want to do what is right, what is required. So when I need to respond that I give full-time care for my spouse, I also want someone to say back – yes you do and we understand. While that does not happen, my fears grow and I want someone to confirm they understand that I am a rule follower and want to know they believe me.

    • Ah, good luck with that Page, getting someone to understand right away. Maybe it’s because there are cheaters out there, but it sure seems like it’s guilty before being proven innocent sometimes.

  2. You are correct in thinking, as I do, that they never send a first notice. They use fear to get you to come in. Whomever thought this up should be shoot.

  3. Have you voted in your new jurisdiction? Seems like that would convince them you’ve really moved and mean to stay moved. Of course, it might not have the fun and frolic of Texas elections – I mean, what is an election without Kinky Friedman in it? – or, oh my holy Lord, Teddy Cruz and his Neo-Dominionist preacher father, from whom he must have gotten much of his full-bore insanity- but it might work to get Travis County off your back.

    • Julia, that’s the best explanation of Ted Cruz I’ve ever read, anywhere. You’re brilliant. Unfortunately, the Travis County Courthouse is not because yes, John and I have indeed voted here in Washington. Which, by the way, is such a calm, sane procedure. Your ballot comes to you by mail, you fill it out, you mail it back in. Ta-da. No effect whatsoever on one’s blood pressure.

    • No doubt about that, Lisa. As much as the thought of jury duty sends a chill down my spine, having the word “defendant” associated with my name…oof, I can barely think about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s