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How to survive jury duty without losing your mind

Whether taking part in the justice system makes you feel like a total boss or fills you with abject terror, this handy tech guide will help prepare you for what's next.

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You'll spend a lot of time waiting when you're on jury duty. Here are our top tech tips for how to survive it.

Getty Images/Jeff Greenberg

Being selected for jury duty is an important responsibility -- some even consider it a privilege -- but it can also elicit a range of, well, feelings. Civic duty! $12.50 per day! Long lines! Expensive parking!

Like it or not, jury duty is something many of us will take part in at some point. And whatever side of the camp you fall on, there's one thing I can guarantee: You're going to do a lot of waiting.

I recently served for two weeks and there are a few things I wish I had considered beforehand, including tech I wish I had thought to bring along from day one. Keep reading for my top tech tips for surviving jury duty (or rather, the extensive waiting that comes along with it). 

Note: These tips specifically refer to the time spent in the jury pool waiting areas, before you are called to be a juror on a trial. Different rules apply for using tech when you're in a courtroom awaiting jury selection (called voir dire) or are actively serving as a juror on a trial. Please consult your local jury administration team regarding the specific policies and procedures for technology in your area.  

How to pack for jury duty

Before you even reach the courthouse on your first day, think carefully about what you want to bring along with you. You definitely don't want to bring a lot of things, because space is tight, but some key essentials can make the wait a lot smoother.

Here's what I suggest:

  • A portable battery pack -- You probably won't be near an outlet. These are helpful if you have a device with poor battery life that you'd rather keep charged (or if you end up waiting longer than expected). Here are our favorites for Android and for iPhone.
  • Noise-canceling headphones -- You'll still be able to hear the loudspeaker messages, but you'll be able to focus a bit better, especially if you're trying to work. Learn more about the best noise-canceling headphones.
  • A hotspot -- The court building had Wi-Fi (and yours probably does too), but it wasn't reliable, especially in the main waiting room. Check out the best hotspots.
  • Snacks -- Our "juror lounge" area had a vending machine, a mini-fridge, a microwave and a water fountain. Consider bringing your own snacks and lunches if you like to eat on a schedule -- or if you simply want to avoid the hypnotic allure of the vending machine (Oooh, Twix...). Be sure to bring an insulated lunchbox so your food will stay cool, especially if there isn't a fridge handy.
  • A reusable water bottle -- There should be water fountains available, so you can fill up a reusable container with ease. 

Of course, these are just suggestions, but they made a difference in my life during those longer periods of waiting. 

How to park for jury duty 

If you live in an area with reliable public transportation, that's the best way to get to -- and from -- jury duty. I happen to live in an area with a decent bus system, but it isn't particularly accessible from my neighborhood, so I drove instead. Let me tell you -- parking was total chaos. 

Here are some suggestions for my fellow drivers:

  • Use an app like Smarty Park to find open spaces in nearby parking garages.
  • Take a picture or somehow make note of where you parked (we've all had the experience of forgetting where we parked and had to wander aimlessly, pressing our car's lock button, hoping for a distant "beep!").
  • Ask jury administration (possibly beforehand) if there are any specific parking garages that provide discounts to jurors (I got a $1 discount -- I know, not much, but hey it's something -- when I parked in a certain garage).

If public transportation isn't an option and driving doesn't sound good, consider a shared Lyft/Uber Pool to save money and cut out the inconvenience of parking. I kind of wish I had done that. 

How to wait during jury duty 

As Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part." You've packed your gear, you've parked (hopefully somewhere that won't cost you a fortune) and you're hanging out in the crowded waiting room. Grab a seat and those noise-cancelling headphones and get to work. I wrote a lot of this from one of those very same seats. 

Have a tech suggestion of your own on how to survive jury duty? Let me know below.

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