Obama re­ports for jury duty, works crowd, but isn’t cho­sen


Former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama grinned broadly as he ex­ited the Daley Cen­ter in the Loop Wed­nes­day, per­haps be­cause he was not called to serve on a jury.

Obama was treated like ev­ery­one else re­port­ing for jury duty — for the most part.

He watched a 20- minute in­struc­tional video. He placed a red ju­ror sticker on his chest. And he’ll re­ceive a $ 17.20 check in the mail for his time.

But from the get- go, it was not a nor­mal day at the Daley Cen­ter.

Word leaked that Obama would be there.

In case you were won­der­ing, Obama has not for­got­ten how to work a room.

Videos and pic­tures posted to so­cial me­dia paint the pic­ture.

“This looks like Chicago right here,” Obama said as he be­gan to min­gle.

“If I start tak­ing self­ies, then we’re go­ing to get no work done,” he joked, de­clin­ing the re­quest.

One ju­ror, clearly in the know, pro­duced a copy of Obama’s book “Dreams from My Fa­ther.”

“I can’t sign au­to­graphs,” Obama said. “But when the guy bought my book, I gotta.”

Please sign it “For Jim and Ann,” the man said.

“Anne with an E or no E?” Obama asked. “No E,” said the man.

“That’s how my mother’s name is spelled,” Obama said of his late mother, Ann Dun­ham.

In a brief ex­change about basketball with an­other ju­ror, Obama pro­claimed: “My shot’s bro­ken. It’s bro­ken.”

The man record­ing the video can be heard say­ing in dis­be­lief: “. . . and I was go­ing to ditch jury duty to­day.”

Se­cret Ser­vice agents tailed Obama around the room for a few min­utes as he shook hands and al­lowed pho­to­graphs be­fore he was escorted from the gen­eral wait­ing room to while his time away in the pri­vate cham­bers of a judge who hap­pened to be on va­ca­tion.

A to­tal of 96 of the 168 po­ten­tial ju­rors — or 57 per­cent — who ar­rived at the Daley Cen­ter Wed­nes­day were called to ap­pear in court­rooms for ser­vice.

The rest, in­clud­ing Obama, were not needed and sent home. The se­lec­tion process was ran­dom.

But had he been cho­sen, Obama, a former law pro­fes­sor, would have been shown into a court­room for the voir dire process — where lawyers pose a se­ries of ques­tions to po­ten­tial ju­rors to en­sure they’re free of bias or prej­u­dice to­wards the is­sues in­volved in the case.

A trial could have taken days or even weeks.

Later Wed­nes­day, Obama was booked to give a speech at a down­town ho­tel be­fore a group busi­ness lead­ers.

The host of the event: GCM Grosvenor, whose chair­man and CEO, Michael Sacks, is a ma­jor donor to the Obama Foun­da­tion.

Chief Cook County Judge Tim Evans said Obama told him that he would ab­so­lutely be will­ing to serve if he was called.

“If the former pres­i­dent of the United States takes his time to come, any­body ought to be will­ing to come,” he said.

As for Obama’s plans for the $ 17.20 that tax­pay­ers owe him for show­ing up Wed­nes­day: “His staff mem­bers told me that he wanted to do­nate it back. I told them, well, my re­spon­si­bil­ity is to send it to him, and if he wishes to do­nate it back to the cit­i­zens of this city, he can send it back.”

Or just not cash the check, Evans pointed out.

“… AND I WAS GO­ING TO DITCH JURY DUTY TO­DAY.” A man who recorded a video of former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama min­gling with ju­rors at the Daley Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day

Peo­ple rush the doors of the Daley Cen­ter jury as­sem­bly room as former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­parts after be­ing dis­missed from jury duty on Wed­nes­day. | CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/ AP

Former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama waves out­side the jury as­sem­bly room at the Daley Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day. | MITCH DUDEK/ SUN- TIMES

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