Jury duty: it might not be as fun as say, almost any other thing, and people usually don’t wake up hopeful that today’s the day the summons arrives in their mailbox, informing them that it’s time to head over to the courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn. But it is your civic duty to serve, so you might as well just suck it up and go. The courthouse has WiFi so you can do things like read Brokelyn, catch up on Serial, write posts about surviving jury duty for Brokelyn, or non-computer things even. All of that is until they call your name. Then it’s time to work – and pretend you make up 1/12th of a GOD to someone.
Plus, jury duty time away from your regular job, and if it’s been a while since you’ve been to Downtown, consider it a great opportunity to check out some fun food and drink spots you might otherwise have missed. So, in the service of encouraging doing your civic duty without losing your mind, here’s your jury duty survival guide.
How to handle the courtroom
Since this is the 21st century, the New York State Unified Court System understands that we all have needs involving Twitter and watching Too Many Cooks for the 11th time. So, feel free to bring your phones, your tablets, your phablets, your laptops, your phlaptops, whatever, but definitely do not forget to bring a charger. Spend enough time on Facebook and you’ll be panicking by 2:30, looking at a battery level of 25% and wondering why you spend so much of your precious time on this earth giving a social network all your personal data. There are enough outlets along the walls that you’ll be able to grab at least a quick charge and go back to avoiding analyzing your Internet habits.
Fellow Brokelynites Madelyn Owens and Tim Donnelly also recently had jury duty stints, so they’ve got some advice for you too:
Madelyn recommended wearing comfortable clothes (who the hell do you think you’re there to impress, anyway?) and bringing a soft hoodie or a jacket that you can roll up into a makeshift pillow to rest your head on while you wait to be called. She also had some advice if you get stuck in a kind of jury purgatory:
“If, like me, you’re there for three and a half days without ever hearing any ACTUAL testimony (the judge was in conference with two sides the whole time, trying to force a settlement), my best advice would be to bring more than one thing to do. Bring a book AND a crossword puzzle AND something to write/draw/whatever your creative vice is. Or you will go crazy.”
Tim’s first and more important piece of advice is DON’T fall asleep in the jury box. The judge will notice this and halt the whole the trial and send the jury on a break to re-energize. Don’t be that guy and hold up the show, because it’ll likely prompt a couple of dirty looks and be a whole thing. DO bring water into the jury box, but be aware that food can only go as far as the jury room so no going to town on that extra order of dumplings during cross-examination. Tim also stresses that you just plain enjoy the experience, because it affords you the opportunity to interact with other Brooklyn residents from different walks of life that you might not have ever interacted with in your daily adventures.
“People acted like they didn’t want to be there, but then they actually got down to it when deliberations started and gave it very serious consideration. I was on a murder trial and it was like watching a week of boring Law and Order episodes and then TWO FANTASTIC DAYS of watching the prosecutor summarily launch a shock and awe campaign of destruction on the pretty weak defense case. The other thing: if you get into one of the cool jury rooms like we had, you get a baller ass view of Downtown Brooklyn. Instagram away!”
Out to lunch
Sure sure, you can always head over to Shake Shack if it’s been awhile since you’ve had one of their tasty burgers and a shake, but why not try a different kind of sandwich? You can have snag a delicious bahn mi and bubble tea for $9.25 at Hanco’s (147 Montague St.) with their lunch special.
If you’re looking for something tasty for so little money it’s frankly a little suspicious, Golden Fried Dumpling (192 Duffield St.) has you covered. Four fried chive and pork dumplings will set you back just $1.25, which might sound sketchy as all hell, but this author would like to point that I ate said dumplings during my recent jury duty excursion, and I didn’t contract any hideous gastrointestinal diseases or anything! Roast pork buns are also just $1.25, and with chicken fried rice for only $4.25, you can have a meal that you’ll barely be able to finish for just over $5.
We’re not going to pretend it’s cheap, but if you really need to satisfy your craving for a grilled cheese sandwich, you can’t go wrong with the Morris Grilled Cheese Truck. It’s in the MetroTech area on Thursdays, and if you’re feeling up for it, you can grab a classic grilled cheese sandwich for $5.25, or go for the Habanero Chicken (Point Reyes Blue Cheese + chicken sausage + pickled celery + habanero hot sauce) for a $9. We know, we know, not the most Brokester friendly, but we can’t argue with grilled cheese. And they do have cheaper items, like garlic bread ($1) and tomato soup ($2 for a cup, $4 for a bowl).
The Brooklyn Heights location of Lantern Thai Kitchen (101 Montague St.) offers a pre-fixe lunch for $9, with your choice of app and entree. The service is fast too, so you can have that much more time hitting up Housing Works (122 Montague St.) to peruse some second-hand goods for the remainder of your lunch break.
Always a lunch staple, and part of everyone’s diet unless you’re a vegan or a total weirdo who plain doesn’t like it, good pizza can be had at Piz-zetta (90 Livingston St.). Sure, their slices are priced at pretty much the market rate ($2.50 for a cheese, $2.75 for the upside down-style “Grandma slice”), but this is just an exceptionally solid pizza spot that gets you in and out in spitting distance from the court house. No gimmicks necessary. And that Grandma slice is pretty damn great.
There is also the Borough Hall Greenmarket on the plaza directly outside of the supreme court building, open for business on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am-6pm.
Maddie also recommended hitting up Chocolate Works (110 Montague St.), where you can buy bulk gummy and chocolate candy by the quarter pound, which she called the best decision she made while serving.
Escape to happy hour
Did you get picked for a case, and now your soul is struggling to escape your body out of anguish? Or maybe you were let go and it’s time to celebrate and get turnt, for you’re now free from jury duty service for the next eight years? There are plenty of good options nearby for celebration or mourning.
Buffalo wings, fish and chips, and a frosty beer will be waiting for you at the basic but solid sports pub O’Keefe’s (64 Court St.). Happy hour, Monday-Friday from 4pm to 7pm, will knock a $1 off their drink prices, which you can think of as a modest discount on the greasy goods you’ll be pairing with.
It’s a little bit of a walk, but Sample (152 Smith St., Cobble Hill) has a pretty cray $4 wells/beer/sangria happy hour special from 5pm-8pm every day, which is as inviting as the bar’s cozy interior.
If you hate the idea of getting exercise and want something a bit closer, double fist a couple of medicinal cocktails for the price of one from 5pm-7pm at Bijan’s (81 Hoyt St., Boerum Hill). Your options include drinks with names we’re not making up like MILF, Nutty Buddy and Pump Up the Jam, but try not to sound too embarrassed when you order two of them. Invite a friend, or not and have both of them yourself, rummy.
We’ve told you about the crazy free food specials at Brazen Head (228 Atlantic Ave.) before, but if you needed reminding, you can head over to this cozy Atlantic Avenue spot on Monday for free (yes, free) buffalo wings during happy hour until they run out.
Dining Room (56 Willoughby St.), a bar and grill where you’ll find several weary business-y types when work lets out, has a happy hour from 4pm and until 7pm with $4 pints, $5 wells, and $6 glasses of wine every day, which is a pretty sweet deal allowing you to use those saved dollars on their standard-priced but oh so comforting pub fare, like truffle fries ($6), buffalo wings ($7/6 wings), and a good amount of sandwiches and burgers that’ll run you anywhere from $8-$12.
Hopefully we were able to allay some of your fears about going to jury duty today. While we all know you’re not in for the time of your life and their orientation video does anything but inspire (with the slightly menacing title of YOUR TURN, how could it?), there is be the possibility of fireworks (figuratively). Even if there isn’t, you just had a bunch of free time where you could dick around online and avoid phone calls or work responsibilities. And isn’t that the very best gift jury duty can give? Probably.
Follow Dave for more expert judgement at @DaveRosado