It must be cranky columnist week at the Cook County Circuit Court.

In today’s Trib, columnist Eric Zorn talks fondly of his summons to jury duty. I also performed my civic duty this Tuesday, and had a very similar and happy experience.

I never made it out of the jury room. Neither did any of the other 100, or so, citizens who joined me at the Skokie courtroom that day.

Most people sat in the plush chairs?#34;a big upgrade from the jury room at 26th and Cal. I opted for a less comfy chair but in a very quiet room. It was like spending a day at the library, though I haven’t spent a day in a library since college. I read. I did tons of office work. I thought the greatest thoughts, at least the greatest I’m capable of.

Once in a while the jury wrangler’s voice came over the intercom updating us on the course of justice in Skokie that day. There were, at the start, four trials where a jury might be necessary. About an hour later she announced that one case had been settled. Then came a case where the defendant up and announced that he was, in fact, guilty.

Lunchtime came and we all got 90 minutes of free time. When was the last time you had a 90 minute lunch where you didn’t have to talk business with a colleague or take your kid to the dentist? It was luxurious. Panera, by the way, has a delicious strawberry and poppyseed salad this summer.

Back to the courthouse. A friendly pat down search. And more quiet time. Another case got settled. In the final case the defendant chose a bench trial, probably aware the jury pool was just getting to the good parts in our books or deep into Maury Povich.

So, at 3 p.m. on a lovely summer day we were released into the world with our $17.20 jury pay. As we walked out, a fellow prospective juror said to me, “There has to be a better way than this.” I don’t know what his life is like, but I haven’t had a better day in a month.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...