Tom Keary answered his jury duty summons like many District residents Wednesday, arriving at D.C. Superior Court along with dozens of others at 8 a.m.
It wasn’t until a clerk called him and about 40 other prospective jurors to a courtroom that things took an unusual turn: The trial, for felony assult, was before Judge Ann O’Regan Keary, his wife of nearly 40 years.
It’s common for judges to see friends, neighbors or colleagues in their courtrooms, and they are generally dismissed to avoid conflicts of interest.
But this was the first time a judge’s spouse was part of a jury pool in their courtroom, according to court administrators. What are the odds? The jury pool includes about 18,000 District residents each month, and there are only about 37 judges who hold jury trials in Superior Court’s civil and criminal division.
Judge Keary had driven her husband to the courthouse, and they parted ways upon arrival. “I joked with him and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if you got picked for my courtroom?’” she said. “When I got the list of prospective jurors called for my case, there he was.”
When he walked into the courtroom and saw his wife on the bench, Tom Keary said, they smiled at each other as he took his seat in the gallery.
When a form asking if he knew anyone involved in the case was distributed, he circled “Yes.”
When the attorneys called him to the bench for an interview, the juror and the judge told them they were husband and wife.
Then the judge dismissed him. His service wasn’t complete, however: She reminded him he had to return to the waiting area to see if he would be called to another trial.
“I poured him right back into the pool immediately,” the judge said.
Three hours later, Keary and the other prospective jurors were released, their service complete. “We laughed about it when we got home,” saud Keary, 63, a civil rights attorney.