This is the second post in the series about “Crazy Mock Juror Stories.” Anticipating the reader’s question, “Is she making this up?” the answer is, “These are true stories; really they are!”. I have often thought it is too bad we have to give the mock jurors restroom/smoking breaks. A common occurrence has been for something unplanned to happen during one of the breaks, including the jurors (not to mention the attorneys) using the breaks to go to the hotel cocktail lounge instead of the restroom. On this particular day, however, we were working in a lovely hotel with lots of glass windows affording a beautiful view of our surroundings. When a long period of time had passed and all but one of the mock jurors had returned from a break, my staff and I began to search for the missing mock juror. The attorneys, of course, were becoming irritated about the delay in resuming the mock trial and they began to pace up and down the hall outside the conference room where we were working. My employees searched everywhere, or so they assured me, but were unable to locate the missing mock juror. I was almost ready to give up and resume the mock trial without this person, who, as an aside, was a 65 plus nicely dressed man. I was in the process of explaining to my clients that no one could find the missing person when something caught my eye outside the big windows. There he was, our missing mock juror. Instead of returning from the break at the pre-appointed time, he was engrossed in improving his golf game. He was in the hotel parking lot, hitting a bucket full of golf balls with a golf club! He was hiding in plain sight, there for everyone to see, including my clients who, of course, failed to see the humor in this situation. When I went outside to ask him to return to the mock trial, he sheepishly informed me that he had completely lost track of time. When he and I arrived together to the conference room where we were working, I announced to the mock jurors the reason for our delay and they began to applaud the return of our errant golfer. The clients and I were able to enjoy a few laughs about this, but only after several years had passed. Fore!
Fore, as in forewarned! Jurors, mediators, and judges are people, just like the rest of us. People do strange things. I don’t know whether the subject matter, that is, the case being mock tried, was so boring that the juror/golfer found it more interesting to spend his time chipping away than return on time. But, though we, sort of, laugh about it now, when the pressure is on, tracking down an errant juror is like looking for the golf ball sliced far beyond the out of bounds marker. We now use this example to explain to newly hired research associates – look everywhere you can think of, and keep looking until they are found. These delays waste 10, 15, 20 minutes or more of time for everyone involved, so those minutes really add up to costly delays. It is difficult to foresee how “lost” a mock juror can get, but reconsidering these scenarios makes me wish we have a way to put a tracker on the mock jurors. Melissa vetoed my suggestion, and we try to learn new ways to remind jurors to watch the time. When we get to a hotel/facility with any temptations, or more often, remote smoking areas, we know a problem is likely. So far this has been one of the strangest errant jurors, but stay tuned to our blog for more crazy stories in the near future. It is these types of incidents which cause me to break into a sweat, even on cold days.