3 Ways to Make Jury Duty as Painless as Possible

10/04/2016 04:17 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2017

It's a great responsibility those of us in the United States are offered: the ability to decide whether or not a peer of ours is innocent or guilty of the charges brought against them. While the Justice system may have its flaws, the purity of the idea that the People make the decision rather than a government is a great right we have.

But that's not to say that being one of those People doesn't suck. Time away from your job, sitting around waiting to be called, not to mention the inconveniences that come if you are selected to serve for either a trial or grand jury. But doing your duty as a citizen is better than the alternative options, so if you're sitting in a courtroom waiting to be selected now (hi!) here are a few ways to make it better:

Bring Your Laptop or Tablet

The majority of your day will most likely be spent sitting around in the main room, waiting to be called for selection. Luckily now, most courthouses have wifi available for potential jurors, so bring a device to help keep you occupied and don't forget your charger. I got most of my email and work up to date the last time I was called in for jury duty thanks to the Brooklyn courthouse's electronics and wifi availability, so if you're called to serve, check and see what amenities are provided by the Court.

Be Respectful and Honest
You may have heard that attempting to convey that you have a preconceived bias like racism or gender stereotypes may get your excused from jury duty, but is that really the way you want someone viewing you? Remember that while it may be a hassle, a jury of peers for the defendant is better than many alternatives, so remember that you're there to determine the guilt or innocence of a person and take it seriously...because you'll want someone to take it seriously if the roles are ever reversed. And don't forget, being disrespectful or attempting to act like a racist can backfire and may get you to be even more put out than trying to comply respectfully would have.

Make Contingency Plans
If you're selected to serve on a jury, the best thing to do is create a plan in the event that you'll be away from your normal responsibilities. While it's unlikely you'll be serving in a trial that's as long as O.J. Simpson's, it makes sense to assume and plan for the worst. Conference with your boss to delegate duties while you'll be away, make sure your bills and debts are being paid, and secure proper childcare in the event that you won't be able to remain a caretaker while serving jury duty. Many of these plans may prove to be useless if it's only a few days, but having contingencies in place will alleviate a lot of stress that may pop up later on.

In most cases, your arduous day spent sitting around in a courthouse will get your name off of the potential jurors list for 8 years. If you do get called to serve, make a plan with one of these three steps and you'll be able to get through your civic duty as painlessly as possible.