CHICAGO — Former president Barack Obama, free of a job that forced him to move to Washington for eight years, showed up to a downtown Chicago courthouse for jury duty on Wednesday morning.
The 44th president’s motorcade — considerably shorter than the one he had when he lived in the White House — left his home in the Kenwood neighborhood on the city’s South Side and arrived at the Richard J. Daley Center shortly after 10 a.m.
Obama — wearing a dark sport coat, dress shirt, but without a tie — waved to people who gathered outside after hearing reports that he would be reporting for jury duty.
Obama’s appearance at the courthouse created quite a stir. In the courthouse lobby, people craned their necks for a glimpse of Obama and took cellphone pictures of him.
Evans said the former president shook hands with other would-be jurors inside the jury assembly room and signed copies of his books that some had taken with them to court.
The president was quickly dismissed. By noon, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans was telling reporters that Obama won’t be serving.
Obama would have been in line to receive the $17.20 a day that jurors are paid for performing their civic duty.
Obama is the highest-ranking former public official to be called to jury duty in Chicago, and almost certainly the only one who ever arrived with a Secret Service detail. But he is not the first former president to be called to jury duty. In 2015, former President George W. Bush answered the jury duty call in Dallas. He was not selected to sit on a jury. And in 2003, former President Bill Clinton reported for jury duty in federal court in New York City. He also was not selected.
Nor is he the first famous Chicagoan to be called to jury duty. In 2004, Oprah Winfrey was on a Chicago jury that convicted a man of murder. A decade later, Lawrence Tureaud, better known as Mr. T, showed up to a suburban Chicago courthouse for jury duty, sporting his usual Mohawk, but without the gold chains for which he is known. But despite the more subdued outfit, Mr. T was not chosen to sit on a jury.