One week ago today I was summoned to serve on jury duty. It’s not the first time I’ve ever received such a summons. In the area where I live, once a person has served jury duty, he/she can’t be called to serve again for at least three years. (There was one time when I was summoned about a year after I last served. I sent a photocopy of the receipt from my previous jury duty stint and I was excused.) I seem to get called with some kind of frequency that I have collected a bunch of jury duty notices over the years.

The earliest one was in 1998. I was considered for a murder trial but I was rejected and sent back to the Jury Lounge. I remember that we still had to stay put just in case other trials came up and they needed more jurors. I was finally relieved by the late afternoon and allowed to return home when the last court case of the day selected its jurors and I didn’t have to cycle into a second trial.

1998

In 2004 I received another summons. Generally the night before your scheduled jury duty, you have to call a hotline to see if the group number that’s on the summons will need to show up. The recorded message said that the people in my group number (including myself) didn’t need to show up. That was the good news. The big disadvantage is that if your name was in a group number that didn’t need to show up, you name gets cycled back into the pool of prospective jurors after one year instead of the three-year reprieve that people who actually show up for jury duty in person get. In any case I made a note that the recorded message said that I didn’t have to show up and I filed it away.

2004

Sure enough, two years after I learned that my group number didn’t need to show up in person, I got another jury duty summons. When I called the hotline the night before, I found that I needed to show up in person. I was considered for a criminal case (I can’t remember if it was a robbery or murder) but I was rejected.  When I returned to the Jury Lounge, I found that all the jurors had already been selected so I was free to leave. I got yet another jury duty receipt to add to my collection.

2006

Exactly three years later in 2009 I received another jury duty summons. I was considered for a criminal trial (I think it was assault and robbery but I’m not 100% certain.) Once again I was rejected for that jury. I returned to the Jury Lounge only to be told that all the jurors had been selected for the day and I could leave. I added another receipt to the collection.

2009

After that stint, I wasn’t considered again for another seven years. In the meantime I had started this blog, suffered through two falls that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment, underwent hip revision surgery to knock that hip replacement back into alignment, and went through a divorce. In fact the last time I visited a courtroom in that same courthouse was for my own divorce back in 2013. So imagine my surprise that, for the first time in seven years, I received another jury duty summons. Thanks to last week’s stint, I added my fifth receipt to the collection.

2016

So I once again drove to Upper Marlboro, parked in the Equestrian Center (mainly because parking is scarce and severely limited in the town itself on weekdays), and took the free shuttle bus over to the courthouse itself. I took photos of the courthouse (as well as the town itself) when I last had to make a visit there last June (in order to get a certified copy of my divorce certificate as part of the paperwork in order to qualify for a portion of my ex-husband’s pension) so I didn’t bother with any courthouse pictures this time around. I did bring my sketchbook with me which I had been using to add new sketches I’ve been doing on a regular basis as part of a New Year’s resolution to just do more creative projects. I did this sketch while I was waiting in the Jury Lounge.

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Basically what happened was that there were three trials that initially came up where each one required anywhere from 65-75 jurors. When my name wasn’t called for any of them I thought I had achieved good luck. However one of the employees responsible for the jurors told us that just because our names weren’t called didn’t mean that we could assume that we weren’t going to be needed and we could leave the Jury Lounge. We were told that there’s a possibility that other trials may appear suddenly on the docket and we had to be around just in case that happened.

About an hour after the last of the three juries left for the courtroom I heard an announcement that a criminal trial had just arrived and they need 72 jurors. Sure enough my name got called to be among the 72 jurors. We were herded by the bailiff into a courtroom where we found out that it was a jury selection for a trial of a man who was accused of brutally assaulting and raping a woman. The trial was scheduled to last three days. So basically it was a few hours of sitting through questions on things like “Do you know any of the people involved in the case?”, “Have you heard about this case in either the press or social media?”, “Have you ever been a victim of a crime?”, “Have you been previously convicted of a felony?”, and things like that. The reason why the questions took so long was because there were 72 prospective jurors.

To make a long story short, I wasn’t selected to serve on that jury. (It was just as well that I wasn’t selected because there was a major blizzard that was forecasted to begin on Friday, which would’ve also been the last scheduled day of that rape trial. Unless the trial ended a day or two early, chances are that the court would’ve had to deal with that scheduling headache along with the jurors and everyone else involved with that trial.) I returned to the Jury Lounge only to be told that there were no more court cases scheduled for today and we were free to leave. By that time it was 1 p.m. and I was hungry. I had brought a lunch with me from home (just so I wouldn’t have to eat in the courthouse cafeteria and save some money). I decided to go outside the Jury Lounge to one of the many wooden benches that dot the hallways and eat my lunch there.

Once I finished my lunch I returned to my car in the Equestrian Center parking lot and drove off. I decided that since I had to go to Upper Marlboro anyway, I would check out a couple of places in that same general area that I had always been curious about but I wasn’t into making special trips to find out more about them.

One of the places was marked with one of those special brown Maryland History signs that pointed out a historical landmark. For years every time I had to make a trip to or from Upper Marlboro I would see this sign pointing to a landmark that was simply called “His Lordship’s Kindness.” I always thought that it was such an interesting name that I would make a mental note of checking it out while I was in the area only to decide against it later mainly because I was tired and I felt this urge to return home.

This time I finally decided to make the effort to check out His Lordship’s Kindness once and for all. It’s actually an old plantation that was originally given to a Colonel Henry Darnall in 1703 by Charles Calvert, the 3rd Baron Baltimore. Col. Darnall was so struck by the 3rd Baron Baltimore’s generosity that he dubbed it “His Lordship’s Kindness” and the name stuck. Guided tours of the place are only offered from March-December and I showed up in January so I didn’t get a chance to take a look inside. I managed to take a few pictures of the Georgian mansion and the grounds before I felt overwhelmed by the cold. (It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit that day.)

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I also decided to check out another place that was located just a few miles north of Upper Marlboro that I had long heard about but I feel that this place warrants a separate blog post since I stayed there longer and took more photos.

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