I received a jury summons for Federal jury duty. Wow, another great opportunity for Jake; Flying with Dale and Johanna, cruising with Olga and me and now joining in on one of our most fundamental rights and privileges we have as Americans. I filled out the questionnaire and mailed it in. Even though I already knew that I could bring Jake, out of courtesy, I called the jury clerk, whose name is Pam. She wasn’t too sure about it and said she would check with the U.S. Marshals and get back with me. When she called back, she said it was OK and that he would have to agree to be an alternate juror. She and I laughed about a few things and I knew that this would be an enjoyable experience. She also assured me that all concerned would go with the flow, no pun intended, when it came to taking care of Jake’s needs as needed.
Jake was absolutely awesome. When we first got there, on Monday morning, we just assembled in an ante-room. Jake immediately sat down beside me when I stopped my chair. Now this is a behavior which he and I continue to work. We all know that it would be great if it happened 100% of the time. However, Jake has a mind of his own, and even after a year, at times it takes a few tries to get him to sit after I stop. Once all 50 prospective jurors were there, we went to another room for instructions. Again, Jake sat when I stopped. After the instructions, we went to the courtroom for jury selection. All in all, I guess I moved my chair about 20 times and he sat every time. Once in the courtroom, I had to look at my ID card with Jake’s picture and then at Jake to make sure I had the right dog. All along, folks were saying how well mannered he was.
Well, I don’t know whether it was my good looks (yeah right) or Jake or what, but we got selected. We all know the “all rise” and “you may be seated” routine. “All rise” and we’d walk into the courtroom. The other jurors went into the jury box, up a step. Jake and I stopped at the end. “Be seated” and I gave him a hand signal to “down.” Now, all you folks in the training business get to tell me why he didn’t sit when I stopped, but in this case waited till I signaled him. This happened every time we went into the courtroom. Was he a juror in a previous life?
Once we were settled the first time, the judge asked me who my friend was. “Juror #2A, Jake. He’s an alternate juror.” (My juror number was 2). Laughs and a welcome from the judge.
The trial lasted two days. Jake slept the whole time we were in the courtroom. When he is sleeping, at times he will make some guttural sounds. It seems like they occur when he is in a deep sleep. Well, with only one person talking, judge, lawyer or witness, it’s relatively quiet. That is until Jake did his thing. The first time, it was like stop motion. For about 2 or 3 seconds, everything stopped and folks looked at us. I just pointed at Jake. The prosecutor, who was about 8 feet from Jake just smiled. Then things continued. Towards the end of the first day, between witnesses, the judge spoke to me: “Mr. Roca, it looks like Jake is pretty bored.” I thought about coming back with something “cute”, but just said that he was being a good dog.
After the judge read the verdicts and talked to us about facts which we were not privy to, he thanked us for doing our duty. He specifically thanked Mr. Roca and Jake, explaining that he felt that any judge in the country wouldn’t hesitate to excuse us because of the disability. He commented that too many people try to get out of jury duty. So, we “walk” away from another wonderful experience feeling good. Pam even gave Jake a certificate to show he served on a jury. Everyone loved Jake and commented on how well he behaved. As for me, I am so proud of him.
Until the next time when I can share our experience, I wish y’all the very best and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for putting Jake and me together.