© 2009

Having Jury Duty with CART

by Katie Lovato

I had the good(?) fortune of being sent a jury duty notice in the mail not too long ago.  I filled out the necessary form – mentioning that I was hard of hearing – and mailed it back.  Lo and behold, I received a letter in the mail some weeks later, letting me know that I would have CART (communication access real time) made available to me during this time.  Good deal!  I had to report to jury duty on Dec. 15th.  I brought the letter stating I would have CART available for me, and I showed it to the woman at the check-in point.   She then led me into the waiting room where the other jurors were, but brought me to a table and chairs – all with the sign “Reserved” and told me to wait there for the CART person.  People in the waiting room were looking at me, wondering why I needed a special, reserved spot.  The CART person eventually showed up and set up her equipment.  Houston, we have lift-off!  While the court employees spoke up at the front of the room, etc., she typed out what they said so I knew what was going on.   Apparently, there were two trials they would need jurors for, so we had to wait in the waiting room until the courtrooms were ready.

As luck would have it, my name was called to go to one of the courtrooms.  This was right before lunch, so the court employee told my group to just go ahead and have lunch and be back at a certain time, but to report directly to the courtroom.  After lunch, the potential jurors went to the courtroom and waited outside until they were ready for us.  I kept looking to see if my CART interpreter would show up, but I didn’t see her.  The bailiff eventually called us in, and when I walked in, I saw my CART interpreter at the front, near the prosecutor’s table/desk, waiting for me.  I had front-row seats for this event!  I sat next to the CART person and the jury selection began.  As luck would have it AGAIN, my name was called as a potential juror in the first round. 

Due to my situation, I did not need to go sit in the jury box, but just stayed seated next to my CART person.  For those of you who have served as a juror, the defense and the prosecution both get a chance to ask the potential jurors questions and “weed” out the ones they don’t want.  I was asked a few questions and answered honestly.   An odd question I was asked was if I was able to look at witnesses on the stand to see their emotions, etc., during testimony.   I told the attorney that I needed to be more concerned with what the CART interpreter was typing on the laptop screen I was reading.   Jury selection can take a long time, so the judge let us leave around 4:30 – even though jury selection was still going on – but we had to be back at that courtroom at 9:00 am the next day.

Day 2!  We assembled ourselves into the courtroom – I had a different CART person this day, but the same, first-class seat.  I was not asked any questions during this time, but the prosecution kicked me out of the jury box, deciding I was not the best juror for their case.  Oh, well.  Why they dismissed me, I’ll never know (in the back of my mind, I do wonder if the prosecutor felt the CART situation would have been a hindrance during the trial, but that’s only speculation).  

If you are ever called to serve jury duty, SPEAK UP and request CART service.  You’ll be so glad you did!