The rest of us were sent back to the considerably less crowded holding cell across the hall. No really, apparently another trial had been summoned while we were gone so the (lower) room was only half full when we returned. Some movie was playing, but I did my best to ignore it until the flight attendant lady came on again:
“We’re sorry for the interruption, but it is now 12:30pm. You are officially on lunch: if you brought your own lunch you are free to eat it upstairs…otherwise you are free to eat at any of the restaurants downtown, but you must be back here by 1:45pm.”
I had a wholly mediocre lunch at the Chinese place at the food court up the street from the courthouse, and managed to get back a full 45 minutes early than I needed. Whatever, I took a random seat upstairs and used my change from lunch to buy a soda and a bag of chips (which were 5x better than my real lunch).
Speaking of mediocrity, the movie started up again just so it could be interrupted by the first gate arrivals of the afternoon. Numbers 001-273, 795-999 were needed on the third floor, and the reassurance that “would be the final call of the day for these numbers.”
That wasn’t me; I had to sit thru the rest of the movie and the beginning of the next one which looked like it was going to be just as bad. I was almost ecstatic when they called rows 274-794 fifteen excruciatingly awful minutes into the non-flight film.
There were only two problems with this: 1) there was slightly more than an hour left in mandated service 2) which all but GUARANTEED that if I were seated I’d HAVE to repeat this shit again tomorrow.
The courtroom was the same size as the one I was in during the morning session, but with much grander architecture…and half as many seats. But don’t worry, her honor implored this process shouldn’t take the entire hour – especially since the actual trial wasn’t scheduled to begin until tomorrow afternoon anyway.
Unfortunately for us, the judge liked the sound of her own voice and kept droning on and on about all the questions she was going to ask us and how she wanted us to answer them. Eventually she got onto letting the court clerk call roll and begin her over explained process of voir dire, but just as she was about to let the lawyers begin their portions of the process the defendant changed his mind about a jury trial and decided to just plead out.
“This is actually relatively common,” the judge intoned to us, before directing a series of “are you SURE you understand what you are asking the court to do here” questions towards the defendant.
Then as she was finishing with that, the fire alarm went off and she rather off-handed dismissed us. I made my way down six flights of steps out of the hidden juror door and back onto St Paul St . I debated whether it was worth it to try and get a non-answer out of one of the many police or fire fighters already at the scene, but I already knew they couldn’t tell me anything.
However, the news ticker on the JHU building across the NB Circulator stop on Fayette St was under no such restraints. The ‘top headlines’ as I approached the stop were “Bomb blast kills one in state center,” and “State buildings evacuated due to ‘suspicious’ packages.”