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Motive for Health and Fitness During Jury Duty

 

Health and Fitness Lifestyle Jury Duty

 

 

What is the motive for health and fitness during Jury Duty?

 

None?

 

Well, not completely true. And, just so you know, I am trying to draw a connection between my recent jury duty assignment with health and fitness to share this experience on my health and fitness website. Ha. However, my website IS all about my lifestyle and experiences. I simply just want to publish more on my perspective on jury duty as there are many misconceptions out there. With that, there ARE actually some connections with health and fitness while on jury duty. Jury duty consumed a significant amount of my time and mental energy over the course of a week span. Here are some quick tips on how to keep your health and fitness at the forefront when busy on jury duty before I share my jury duty experiences!!

 

Top 3 Tips:

  1. Make your fitness a priority. I ended up re-arranging my early morning schedule to get in my workouts before I left for jury duty. This may require getting up a little earlier or doing your workouts in the evening (usually jury duty wraps up around 4:30-5PM at the latest each day). There is a lot of sitting during jury duty, but there is also a lot of walking back-and-forth to the courtroom if you are on a case. Be sure to stretch and move around occasionally to stay alert. Your walk from the parking garage should also provide additional activity.

 

  1. Make your nutrition a priority. It is easier to make good decisions at home, but what do you do while at jury duty? I brought healthy snacks such as protein bars, fruit and mixed nuts for snacks. I drank a lot of water and made the best decisions possible for lunch including lean meats and salads. Jury duty is not an excuse to eat unhealthy and you certainly would benefit from being well-rested, physically active and focused on good nutrition to be at your top mental state for the case.

 

  1. Although this does not apply to everyone, I have a health and fitness business mostly conducted online. I was able to stay on top of my business of helping others even at jury duty by monitoring emails, messages and calls while waiting and on one of the many breaks (except at deliberation). If you have a business that can be done remotely be sure to bring your phone, laptop or other materials to stay on track during downtime (if you want). My business actually had one of my better recent weeks while on jury duty!

 

Official Juror Jury Duty

 

**Long Post Alert**

 

What started as forced participation in jury duty turned into a fascinating opportunity to play a significant role in the judicial process. One that I would repeat. I feel compelled to share my experiences with jury duty as one of 12 jurors that deliberated a criminal case (domestic assault) with multiple charges.

 

Why?

 

Perhaps part of the reason is that being a participating member of a jury of peers selected by the court to hear a case FORBIDS you to talk to anyone about the case while it is still in progress, even the other jurors (except during deliberation at the end). For me, this spanned 5 days (actually, 7 days if you include the weekend we had off duty). As a juror, by the time the case is resolved there may be A LOT of thoughts and emotions that have been building for days. That was the case for me. Now I can talk. This is my closure.

 

I have also been getting many questions on my experiences with jury duty. Jury duty is one of those things not well understood by those that have not been summoned or even those that get summoned, since many never step foot in the jury holding tank at the courthouse (they are on call only from the start). Most don’t visit a courtroom for interviewing and certainly most don’t hear a case in the jury box. Then, there are those that hear an entire case in the jury box, but end up being an alternate juror at the end and are dismissed without participation (ouch) in the deliberation process (the best part). There are many people that have negative perspectives on jury duty (for different reasons) and there appear to be many videos and articles written to give tips on how to get out of jury duty. Many of these tips would probably help you get booted from service, but sitting in the jury box under oath with possibly 30-50 people intently listening to your responses to the Judge with attorneys in the room while a stenographer types every word may test your resolve to get out of jury duty. Many people certainly felt anxiety and pressure. If you want to get out of it that bad, it is definitely your choice and possible though with aggressive views or conflicts with timing of the case!

 

For perspective, I do not personally know ANYONE that has mentioned to me that they actually served on a jury AND deliberated verdict(s). And, out of the approx. 150 peers summoned to the jury holding tank the first day of the week I was summoned, from my understanding, only 12 heard a case and deliberated. I was one. That is 8%. Further, many stats suggest the probability of actually deliberating a case is around 1% of those summoned. I also understand that hearing a criminal case similar to mine is even more rare than the typical, straightforward civil cases with misdemeanor charges. In addition, there were many people in the jury holding tank age 60-70 range that mentioned they had never served on an actual jury. All 12 of us selected for the jury in this particular case had not served on a deliberating jury prior. I don’t think I am special since this is mostly random selection (more on that), but as I gained this perspective moving through the judicial process during the week I felt excitement build to experience the ENTIRE process knowing that the chances are low that I would experience it ever again. Maybe I will, and I would gladly participate again if selected.

 

**

VARIOUS STAGES AND EMOTIONS I FELT DURING JURY DUTY SERVICE

 

  1. Received Summons in the mail – Surprised. Concerned I was being sued (not sure why). Glad I was not being sued. Irritated for being summoned (especially since Day 1 was the day after my ice fishing trip). Uncertainty how we would make it work with our schedule since I am a Stay-at-Home Dad. Dis-interest in being a juror based on what people have said. Annoyed that my workouts-nutrition-work would all be impacted.

 

  1. Arrived at the Jury Room Day 1 (holding tank) with approx. 150 others – Quite irritated. Stressed as I was almost late due to traffic. Annoyed by the crowd of people in one room in the courthouse basement with no windows. Bored. Uncertainty on what was going to happen. Belief that I was going to be sent home after waiting all day in the holding tank. Concerned it would be a waste of time.

 

  1. After 7 hours in the Jury Holding Tank Day 1 with 0 jurors called and 100+ already sent home – Extremely irritated and annoyed. Restless. Feelings of validation on others past experiences with jury duty. Beyond bored (magazines were from 2009 in some cases!). I did get a tour of the courthouse including City Chambers and Mayor Office, which was cool!

 

  1. Called to Courtroom for interviews with 26 others by Clerk of Judge 3:30PM Day 1 – Anxious. Interested in the process. Tired. Uncertainty if I would be interviewed.

 

  1. Seated in Jury Box for 3 hours of questions Day 1 and morning Day 2 – Attentive. Nervous on where the questions would lead. Excitement at the potential to be on the jury. Certainty that I would be scratched from the jury. Measured in my responses.

 

  1. Selected as one of 14 jurors to hear the case, possibility of being one of 12 to deliberate – Shock. Nervous that I now had an important civil duty to perform that I did not ask to be involved with. Excitement to be front row in a criminal case. Sad to hear testimony on the charges and parties involved.

 

  1. During trial – Boredom from being secluded in jury room during lengthy delays and breaks. Extreme interest in the facts of the case and playing a role in the verdicts. Frustration on the credibility of some witnesses and gaps in facts (that seemed so obvious, I wanted to point it out, although it was probably all for a reason!). Uncertainty if I would deliberate or be alternate juror. Feeling of power to change lives.

 

  1. Deliberation as one of 12 jurors charged with making the decision on the charges in the case – Fascinated by the process. Engaged to make best decisions based on facts available. Honored to participate. Satisfied with decisions and my role in the judgment. Excitement with the back-and-forth discussion. Withdrawal symptoms from my phone being taken away before they locked the door (ha). Strange excitement being locked into a room with strangers until we made a decision with police and courtroom waiting outside.

 

  1. Presentation of Verdicts – Nervous. Excited. Proud to be involved. Focused on Defendant reaction (was none).

 

  1. Post-Jury Duty – Honored. Proud. Relieved. EXHAUSTED (mentally and physically). Concern on safety since each of our full names was disclosed when the jury was polled at the end to confirm that we agreed with the Verdicts delivered to the court. Excited to get home and get back to normal life. Needed decompression time.

 

**

So, most people don’t get past Stages 3 and 4 above (if they even have to come in Day 1). If that happened to me as well I would likely have a poor, frustrated perspective and dread of Jury Duty.

 

With that said, I want to try to be as concise as possible with my experiences so I will share them in rapid bullet format (it is hard for me to be concise, as you can tell).

 

Enjoy and feel free to ask any questions or share YOUR experiences with jury duty!

 

**

– Jury Duty in my County in Minnesota pays the following for participation: $20/day for showing up + mileage to-from courthouse (was $14/day for me) + child care expenses ($40/day for me since we used non-licensed family help, $50 if use licensed, would not even come close to covering actual expenses in that case) = $74/day for me x 5 days = $370 for my jury duty (I actually received the check within one week!). Income has to be reported to IRS. Parking is not paid. First day parking was $18 and then I found an early bird special site in Saint Paul that was walking distance for $7.50/day. Lunches are on you, except during jury deliberation when it is on the court (in other words, I paid for it anyway with my taxes!).

 

– The Jury Holding Tank procedures are very random, for a reason, to give everyone an equal shot at being selected on the jury as a representative peer of the community (although I hear if you postpone your jury duty you may be more apt to be selected for interviewing). However, you are assigned to a “group” before you arrive (it is on the summons). The groups are made up of different numbers of random people, so, if you have a group size that is more desirable for a certain type of case you have a better chance to be selected for that type of case. For me, my group appeared to be pre-disposed to a criminal case with a larger jury. You can be fined if you do not show up to jury duty when called and they have actually picked people up in a police car to bring them to court when on the jury and don’t show during the trial (can get charged by Judge since wasting time and money of court).

 

– For Day 1, people were being dismissed throughout the day as the cases scheduled either were resolved without trial, did not request jurors (defendant can request trial by Judge), parties did not show or unbelievably we had one on Day 1 where the defendant fired the attorney on the spot and re-scheduled trial. As such, by 3:30PM there were only about 35 potential jurors left in the room out of approx. 150 to start the day (7 hours earlier). I felt that if I did not get called up to the courtroom that day, I would be put on call and essentially no longer be needed since the caseload was getting lower. They hinted that since we waited around the longest we would have less chance of being called to come back.

 

– At 3:30PM I was called to a courtroom. It was a fast process from there being taken up the elevators from the basement to the 12th floor courtroom. Initially, all 26 potential jurors called up were seated in the visitor section and told more about the case from the Judge (high level) and what was about to happen next. The defendant and both attorneys were present along with several officers. The Clerk then called names from the random list and seated 21 potential jurors in the jury box (3 rows of 7). I was number 20 called. Since the jury box only accommodates 14, numbers 15-21 sat in fold-down style wooden seats at the bottom of the jury box. Fun sitting there for hours with my history of lower back issues! Not.

 

Jury Duty Courtroom

 

– Random selection of jurors seems to end in the next stage called, “Voir Dire,” meaning, speak the truth. This is where the jury is decided. The potential jurors are grilled for hours on very basic to specific questions from the Judge and both attorneys to try and draw out history, lifestyle, contacts, experiences and/or viewpoints that may make being fair and impartial challenging for a juror prospect on this particular case. During this process, 5 people were pulled off the panel and 5 more added. In some cases very sensitive topics were discussed and everyone had to leave the room on occasion to a second, empty courtroom for very personal conversations to occur with the Judge. My biggest complaint on jury duty first surfaced during “Voir Dire,” where each person was addressed by FULL NAME in front of everybody, including the defendant. Blows my mind that we were not assigned random numbers by name or seat numbers. Perhaps someone more familiar can explain why our full name needs to be communicated since I have heard many courts simply assign numbers to names to protect identity/privacy. Many potential jurors were upset by their name being used. 10 more people were brought up as alternates if needed while the interviews continued. One of the 10 was my neighbor from down the street! Small world, and I had to disclose I knew her since jurors should not know each other. I was asked only one specific question by one of the attorneys that drew out my college, Ph.D., post-doc, life in the corporate world and my health/fitness business relative to dealing with diversity I have experienced during my life. I was sure I would be booted given my education and business as I had heard that attorneys prefer a jury that is more easily influenced and less “educated” or “independent” based on experience. I was wrong. I was also wrong when I assumed that several people would be removed that had very similar personal experiences similar to the criminal case at hand. I figured it would be assumed that these people would be biased based on experience and even charges brought against them, but they were not removed. Perhaps this was to provide perspective and I could see how they could benefit both sides. In the end, these jurors were very fair and impartial during deliberation with unique perspective to offer. We then all left the room and they selected the jury (I assume a back-and-forth process). I was selected as one of the 14 jurors that would hear the case, but only 12 jurors deliberate and they do not tell you whom the alternates are so everyone pays equal attention during the case if a sub is needed due to emergency. Random side note: The stenographers that record ALL proceedings of the court were insanely impressive to keep up with everything, typing away and just staring straight ahead at the wall. That is one skillset I don’t understand, very impressive.

 

– The opening statements began in the trial. Of course the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We learned more about the case and what we were about to hear. The attorneys pitted old school (defense, simple presentation style and she said she was “long in the tooth!” when she couldn’t hear) vs. new(er) school representing the State of Minnesota with her PowerPoint’s. New(er) school was much more effective in my opinion as the visuals helped retain and commit facts/images/findings relative to the laws to be applied. We were allowed to take notes throughout the trial (I had 13 pages by the end). Let me say this, there are MANY… MANY… MANY delays during trial. And, during delays the jury sits isolated in a jury room without the ability to even talk about the case. Delays are typical while court matters are being discussed in the courtroom. By the way, our jury got along very well. I was honored to experience the process with them for days. So, what do 14 strangers talk about in this situation during delays and breaks? Apparently, food. Yes, food. I now know just about every restaurant and bar in the Twin Cities area and how spicy foods cause certain people distress. This is what people talk about when they can’t talk about the things they want to talk about. Food. Man… It was a long couple days! In addition, the jury does a lot of walking back-and-forth from the court for these delays including breaks and moments when the court needs to be cleared for certain, more private conversations between the attorney’s and/or witnesses with the Judge (happened MANY times).

 

– I do not want to go into too many details on the specific case, names of those involved or specific incidents at question. It was a sad case though to hear with allegations of domestic assault. There were 3 charges based on intent to create fear of bodily harm, intent for crime of violence and charge of a violent act. Most of the witnesses were frustrating as there were inconsistent statements and concerns on credibility. In fact, the defendant and alleged victim had completely different stories on a very specific series of events that initiated the case altogether. Somebody was clearly lying under oath. I was also frustrated by the lack of obvious questions that should have been posed to the defendant in particular and a few extra witnesses that would have provided compelling evidence (maybe they didn’t want to be involved). I felt the examination of the defendant should have been much longer, but it felt like it was being rushed as the day was drawing to a close in the courtroom. However, it was quite intense and I learned much “slang”. (Tip: Many things may be hard to prove without reasonable doubt, but text messages can be quite incriminating.) The closing statements were a tale of two attorney styles again. The defense was more old school again simply discussing some of the inconsistencies observed throughout the trial, while the State attorney was more aggressive in tone and presentation, polished in delivery with Powerpoint slides that basically walked through in detail their interpretation of how the evidence presented proved guilt on all 3 charges. After closing statements, the jury was provided instructions on the laws to apply to the facts in this case. The alternate jurors were dismissed and as one of the remaining 12 jurors I was whisked away to the jury room.

 

– What happened next was a surreal experience I will never forget. The jury was no longer to be separated (except bathroom, which were within the jury room anyway) or without police supervision. They took our phones (Nooooooo!). However, we were escorted with police in front and behind us to the luxurious, famous St. Paul Hotel via the Skyway system for a lovely buffet lunch before the jury deliberations (again, our taxes at work, ha, I think I saw it cost $350!). Then, we were locked in the jury room to come to a decision, no matter how long it took (within reason) without drinks or refreshments. It took us 3 hours.

 

Jury Deliberation Room

 

– First matter was to appoint the foreperson or juror to deliver the verdict to the court. Although I had the opportunity to serve this position, being a man of science and fact, I wanted to be able to focus on that role vs. balancing discussion between juror members and interpretation of law. Ultimately, I felt that was a good decision and I was honored to fulfill my duty along with the jury! The foreperson ended up being a Kindergarten Teacher, clearly well suited to keep order and he did very well! The deliberations were not much unlike the movie, “The Twelve Angry Men,” in many ways. However, for the 3 charges we were able to come to a unanimous decision relatively less painfully without argument, although it took hours to discuss the facts as it related to each specific charge and interpretation of law to be applied. Again, very fascinating and my jury duty experience would have been much different (less satisfying) without the opportunity to deliberate. It was a powerful feeling to help determine verdicts for a case at law. At one point in the deliberation we were seeking some clarification as a jury on the law instructions. Not unlike grade school, we had to pass a note to the Judge via the bailiff and then get approval to re-join the courtroom with all parties in attendance. When we entered the courtroom the Judge addressed us by saying that the clarification we seek will become clearer as, “I instruct you to re-read the jury instructions”. HA! We got a good laugh from this back in the jury room, basically relating her response as the “judicial middle finger”. Can’t make this stuff up. In the end, we reached unanimous verdict on all 3 charges with 2 guilty charges and 1 not guilty charge (just was not enough clear evidence to support). Although unanimous, as I mentioned, it took some time to relate facts to credibility, bias and circumstance. Surreal indeed.

 

– It was getting late and fortunately the Judge was able to pull everyone together to finish up the case that day. The verdicts were delivered to the Clerk, whom read the verdicts for each charge to the entire courtroom on behalf of the jury. Then, the Clerk asked each of us on the jury individually if this was our accurate verdict for the case. Again, the Clerk called us by name! Come on, man. I get that it needs to be public record, but publically stating names of the jury in front of the defendant found guilty on charges and family is not ideal to me. I digress. When the verdicts were read the defendant was stoic and seemed a little confused on what was going on. The Judge then wrapped up the session, thanked us for our important service as a jury of peers and sent us on our way.

 

– It doesn’t end there. After the Judge cleared the courtroom she brought the jury back and thanked us again. She talked about the significance and importance of our role as jurors in the justice system. How it is not always perfect, but an amazing system nonetheless. She fielded a few questions. I asked one on what the next steps are in this case. She mentioned the sentencing will occur in a couple months based on a number of factors combined with our verdicts. I suppose I will check back to see what happened, but I understand a combination of prison time and fines are typically involved in these types of charges. Someone asked what the Judge and Clerk were doing on their computers throughout the trial. Turns out they were communicating with each other via business Skype on matters related to timing of breaks, scheduling, writing up the jury instructions, etc. See, I thought the Clerk was playing solitaire! By the way, the Judge was very strong in command of the courtroom and certainly has a tough job with mediating objections and court proceedings. Much respect. Impressive to experience! We were then dismissed to go home.

 

**

So that is my story of my personal experience with jury duty. As I mentioned, I felt forced to show up, but by the end felt that I gained an experience of a lifetime with the opportunity to serve the community with unbiased verdicts on an unfortunate domestic situation. And, with that service, I have been told that I should not be contacted for jury duty for another 4 years!

 

What has YOUR experience been with jury duty??

 

 

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Premiere 5 Star Diamond Independent Beachbody Coach, CEO and Founder of TEAM RAGE, Mike Nowak Fitness, HowDoIGetRipped.com and How Do I Get Ripped, LLC. You are about to learn how I went from out-of-shape busy dad with significant travel, 2 kids and a wife to losing 20 pounds, 16% body fat and 7" off my waist while getting paid more income from home than my Ph.D. in Science & Engineering. Retired my Ph.D. career to focus on FAMILY & FITNESS!

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