No sane person wants jury duty. But unless you recently ran into a car, know a judge to bribe, or are willing to give the state another reason to claw you, you’re going. And so I did.
I got in there bright and early with several hundred of my fellow citizens. My first impression walking in the door? They’ve got seven televisions in the room. All of them have CNN on, fucking CNN. One of the most solemn and important duties in somebody’s civic life and they’ve got garbage television on the walls. Man, just put some camels and giraffes on there so people’s blood and mental lunacy isn’t fired up by stupid CNN before they go play with somebody’s life in court.
The jury duty leader gives the introductory speech about how she knows nobody wants to be there, but how important it is to freedom, democracy, and justice that we be there. She inserts humor and the crowd is eating out of her hand the entire time.
She’s graded on a curve because she gives the same speech every day, but still, it says something about the state of our political leadership that the most inspirational and motivating political speech I’ve heard in years was given by a jury duty director at a random county courthouse.
They call out the names by the dozen assigning to each case. It’s great to hear the breadth of unique America, name by name. We’re doing just fine people [gives finger to haters on each political side using both hands].
I get picked with 49 others to sit the panel for a criminal trial. This didn’t sound fun. I’d have probably gotten struck anyways because of my day job and second job categories (moving that sweet, sweet Columbian pure across the International Date Line) [sips coffee], but still, even if you know you’ll get struck you wonder.
Lawyers and judges are crazy people. Who only knows what they’ll do with you once they’ve got you. But apparently, most criminal trials they said are quick and easy. It’s the medical malpractice trial you don’t want to get. Four to six weeks. Six weeks? Man, modern medicine is a shithouse apparently.
The 50 of us sit, waiting to be called back to the courtroom. But after sitting in there for five hours they finally start to dismiss everybody. I mean everybody who showed up that day. My case got continued, another one they cut a deal, etc, etc. They sent everybody home. Nobody got selected that day. Everybody was off the hook for three years of jury duty.
Sitting at the bus stop on the way out was like emerging from a hospital delivery room where people got to hold the baby. Everybody was gleeful and talking. Such a release for everybody. Courthouses suck. They’re necessary for modern society, but almost everything that happens in there destroys somebody’s life. So nobody wants to be in there, certainly not to sit a jury for days or weeks.
Would we have done it? Yes, all of us. And I hope we would have served with honor and wisdom. But for yesterday, all of us were making our grand escape. Even the cold rain couldn’t dampen anybody’s spirit.