I’ve been on jury duty this week, and my case is finishing up today or tomorrow. I’m at the Manhattan courthouses on Centre Street in lower Manhattan.
A lot has changed since I last did jury duty a number of years ago. Here are the most striking differences.
1. There is free wifi everywhere, including the jury selection room as well as the jury deliberation room (where we sit when we’re not in the courtroom). So I can bring my MacBook Air and get work done, even 15 minutes here and there as we wait.
2. Everyone has a smartphone and is constantly emailing and texting while waiting around. Nobody else on my jury has brought a laptop, but everybody is on his or her phone (mostly iPhone or Android) constantly.
3. No phones on in the courtroom. I don’t remember having so many reminders from multiple people and signs that phones must be turned off while in the courtroom.
4. The court officer provides us with a phone number to call if we are running late. Again, with the expectation that everyone has a cell phone and can call in from almost anywhere.
5. The court stenographer now takes notes on a digital machine. No more rolls of paper tape. Instead everything gets transferred to a nearby computer or to a flash drive.
The lawyers and the judge are still taking notes and reading from notes on paper, so we haven’t yet arrived at a fully paperless courtroom. I wonder if that will be true the next time I’m called for jury duty service.