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Former President Obama Reported For Jury Duty, But His Panel Wasn't Needed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Former President Barack Obama reported for jury duty Wednesday morning at the Daley Center downtown, but was in the courthouse less than two hours before he was allowed to go home.

Obama worked the jury room, greeting and thanking other citizens for their jury service. At one point he looked over the room and said, "This looks like Chicago!"

Obama spent the night at his home in Kenwood before leaving for jury duty shortly after 9:30 a.m., in a motorcade of four black SUVs, a marked Chicago police SUV, and a marked Illinois State Police SUV.

After navigating through stop-and-go traffic in the Loop, he arrived at the Daley Center courthouse around 10 a.m., and entered the building through the basement.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans greeted the former president when he arrived in the jury assembly room on the 17th floor of the courthouse. Shortly before noon, Evans announced Obama had been dismissed for the day. The former president had been selected for a jury panel that was not needed on Wednesday, and the entire panel was allowed to go home around lunchtime.

Evans said several other potential jurors shook hands with Obama while he was at the courthouse, and some even brought along books for him to sign.

Tabitha Smith was walking by the Daley Center before Obama arrived, and was impressed the former president was reporting for jury duty.

"That's kind of cool. I might stand outside on my first break and see if I can catch him," she said.

Walter Palmer, who also had been summoned for jury duty at the Daley Center on Wednesday, said he felt like he had a golden ticket. He was excited about the possibility of meeting the former president in the jury room. Palmer also praised Obama for not trying to get out of jury service.

"It shows us all that I don't have a good excuse, and it's an important duty for all of us. So if he's going to show up, I guess we all have to show up for this," he said.

Evans first revealed Obama had been summoned for jury duty last month, but did not reveal exactly when or where the former president would serve.

Obama still owns a home at 51st and Greenwood, and is registered to vote in Chicago, although he and his family live in D.C.

Like other jurors, Obama will be paid $17.20 for each day of service.

This isn't his first time Obama has been selected for jury duty since he was elected president. He also was summoned for jury duty at the Bridgeview Courthouse in January 2010, but was excused from serving because of his busy schedule at the time.

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