Not even former President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama is exempt from one of the most important civic duties: jury service. Obama reported for jury duty in Chicago on Wednesday, November 8. His service was not required and in the end he was dismissed two hours later.
The former President was followed by news helicopters as he traveled from his Chicago home in the Kenwood neighborhood to the courthouse. His six-vehicle motorcade, which consisted of four black SUVs, a Chicago police SUV, and an Illinois State Police SUV, parked in the basement lot, from where Obama took a private elevator to the jury assembly room on the 17th floor.
Obama’s reporting for jury duty caused quite a stir
The Daley Center municipal building was bursting with people trying to catch a glimpse of the 44th US president. He was met by a throng of news media and adoring fans as he emerged from the elevator and made his way to the jury assembly room, and the former President was shaking hands and signing autographs with a big smile on his face.
A man of the people
While they were waiting to be assigned a case, Obama found out that some of his fellow jurors, knowing that they might get an opportunity to meet him, had brought books for him to sign, and he gladly obliged.
Determined to go through everything that everyone else goes through when performing this important service, Obama watched a 20-minute long video that outlined the juror’s responsibilities. He even wore the red “Juror” sticker.
Obama received a check for $17.20 for jury duty
The county pays each potential juror a fee of $17.20 per day. That’s not too bad, actually, considering that he worked only two hours.
Obama will be excused from duty for the next year
Obama was assigned to one of 16 panels, revealed a spokesman for the Chief Judge Tim Evans. However, only half of the panels were called to serve as potential trial juries, and Obama’s wasn’t one of them. The former President was dismissed two hours after arriving as his service wasn’t needed.
“The public allowed him to come in and to do his duty. I thought, for example, he would be reticent about greeting them. He came in and greeted the prospective jurors on both side of the panels. We had about 220 people here. He took time to greet people on both sides,” Evans said.
A citizen’s duty
Obama was once before summoned to serve jury duty in 2010, while he was still the President. At that time, he managed to get a postponement, citing previous engagements with the president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq as the reason.
However, this time the former Democratic president was able and willing to fulfill his duties as a citizen of the United States. Katie Hill, his spokesperson, stated that Obama”believes the most important office in our democracy is that of citizen, and he considers jury duty a core obligation of citizenship”.
The Obamas currently reside in Washington, but they also have a home in Chicago, the city that saw the beginnings of Barack’s political career. With an impressive resume that includes a Harvard Law School degree, experience teaching law and eight years as commander in chief, Mr. Obama is more than a decent candidate for jury duty.
This isn’t the first time that a former President has been summoned to court for this reason. In 2015, George W. Bush showed up for jury duty in Dallas, Texas. He was also dismissed a short while after posing for photos with the other jurors.