Obama Just Made Jury Duty A Thrill For These Chicagoans

“If he’s going to show up, I guess we all have to show up for this.”

At least one person was all smiles when reporting for jury duty at Chicago's Daley Center at 10 a.m. yesterday, November 8. Former president Barack Obama, who received his summons last month, showed up in a suit — seemingly happy to join his fellow Chicagoans in their civic duty, now that he too is an ordinary citizen. And his good mood was contagious.


Chicago resident Thomas Pearson, for example, was hanging out in the holding room when POTUS #44 came walking in. Pearson immediately started filming, even telling viewers he thought about ditching jury duty that day. Good thing he didn't — he got to shake the hand of a former commander in chief. "It was awesome," Thomas later told BuzzFeed News.

After spending the night at his home in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood, Obama traveled to the Daley Center via motorcade, entering the building through the basement. Once inside, he met with his fellow potential jurors and signed books for some of them, he greeted a Cook County Chief Judge, and he thanked the staff for their service in "the core part of the justice system."

"This looks like Chicago!" he said, looking over the room, according to local news channel CBS 2.

Walter Palmer, another person summoned to jury duty that day, told CBS 2 he felt like he had a golden ticket — and he praised the former president for serving alongside other citizens.

"It shows us all that I don't have a good excuse, and it's an important duty for all of us," Palmer said. "So if he's going to show up, I guess we all have to show up for this."

Lawyers outside the courthouse told one WBEZ reporter they wouldn't want Obama on their juries, but as litigator Aaron Katz told NPR in October, selecting a former president could be an advantageous tactic.

"Most jury consultants really recommend against sitting someone who, in a deliberation room, is going to have a really outsized voice," Katz said. "But if I'm feeling either really good about my case or really bad about my case, I might actually want a high-impact juror like Obama on my jury, because I know I can tailor my arguments to that one juror, hoping that he or she can carry the day."

As it turns out, Obama was indeed selected for a jury, but he was sent home around noon since his particular jury wasn't needed that day. That likely left him more time to work with his newly-founded Obama Foundation, whose mission it is to "inspire and empower people to change their world" in an "experiment in citizenship for the 21st century," according to its website.

So lucky Chicagoans will get another chance to rub elbows with Obama, and Obama will get another chance to earn $17.20 for a day's work. It's good to see a former prez for showing up for jury duty alongside with everyone else — and with a smile, no less.

(H/T: BuzzFeed News)


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