Little known fact: The jury assembly room at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse is totally decked out. Think twice before excusing yourself from jury duty and missing out on one of the best facilities for jurors in the state.
The jury assembly room used to be the equivalent of what you’ll find in most other juror facilities in the state: nothing more than an auditorium-style room with a TV on a rolling cart. Sounds awful, right?
That was in the courthouse’s old building. Before the current Mecklenburg County Courthouse was built in 2007, a survey was sent out to jurors asking what updates they would like to see in the jury assembly room within the new building.
The updated facility reflects their responses. It includes a movie theater, arcade games, a popcorn machine, and plenty of wide-open space and seating.
In fact, the facility won the G. Thomas Munsterman Award for encouraging people to think of jury service as a valuable experience.
And it’s a good thing that there’s plenty to do, because once you’re called for jury duty and you show up in that assembly room, there is absolutely no leaving the facility with the exception of your lunch hour.
Justice Initiatives, a North Carolina nonprofit dedicated to improving citizen understanding and appreciation for the justice system, has provided a Netflix account to keep jury members entertained while they’re off duty. And I mean the old-school mail delivery Netflix, so there’s a wider range of movies to choose from. Movies are shown twice a day; when I visited, “Passengers” was playing.
The upper balcony of the jury assembly room has a mini arcade, complete with Pacman, Galaga, pinball, PGA golf, a bowling game, and a pool table.
Make sure you’ve got quarters with you; the games won’t work without them!
There’s tons of open space in the facility to kick back. The kitchen includes a sizeable fridge to store your lunch as well as various vending machines to satisfy all of your caffeine and snack cravings.
And, yes, the vending machines do accept cards and larger bills.
There’s free popcorn at 2 p.m. every day, fresh from this machine provided by the Courtside Cafe downstairs.
The arcade games upstairs are also courtesy of the Courtside Cafe; in other words, a lot of these amenities are provided without tax payer dollars.
If you need a breath of fresh air, there’s a porch with a great Uptown skyline view. The porch was originally built to provide people with a place to smoke, although this is no longer allowed.
Need to get some work done while you wait?
The business center has desktop computers that are free to use in case you don’t have your laptop, plus a fax machine and plenty of outlets with nearby seating.
There’s a separate quiet room if your focus needs to be on point.
The facility also offers a separate room for nursing mothers to get some privacy.
The room includes a diaper changing table, a rocking chair, and a mini-fridge to keep breast milk or formula inside.
The week of July 24-28 has been marked as Juror Appreciation Week to celebrate the essential role the jury has within our justice system.
If you’ve got jury duty that week, it’s your lucky day. There will be free cookies, coffee, and breakfast, plus a raffle that will give you chance to win several cool prizes. There are prizes from the Panthers, the Knights, Carowinds, Total Wine, and more.