I, The Jury . . . Or Am I?

Apr 05

PerryMasonJuryI’m ready, willing (sorta), and able. Summoned to serve, I am here in the jury waiting room, waiting for something to happen.

Waiting seems to be the operative word.

Are you sure the jurors on Perry Mason started this way?

What About The Ones on Law & Order?

Well, them too, I guess. According to Diane Sawyer in the “inspirational” video we’re shown,  it only seems like you’re sitting around doing nothing, but in reality waiting is part of an important process, and you, possible juror, are an important part of that important process.

I begin to swell with civic pride just thinking about it. Fulfilling my duty, being a loyal and proud American, becoming . . .

Citizen Pat!

Meanwhile, it sure feels like I’m sitting around doing nothing.


Good people-watching, though. Did you see the jury duty episode of SATC? Carrie’s plea that she’s an “indispensable freelance writer” who can’t possibly be on a jury is met with a disdainful glare from the less than sympathetic court clerk, and our heroine is doomed to join the gloomy roomful of potentials jurors who’d rather be anyplace else but here.

But Carrie isn’t totally bored: the man sitting next to her  pulls a mango out of his briefcase for no apparent reason and holds it for the whole session. Berger, Carrie’s flame of the moment—you know, the one who breaks up with her on a Post-It (the worm) — thinks that a mango is the most improbable thing to come out of a briefcase. Except, maybe, for a pineapple. The next day, the man produces a coconut. “So close,” says Berger, not long before he reaches for that fateful Post-it. The son-of-a bitch was a shit, but not without wit.

I look around hoping to sight some tropical fruit, but no one has anything more exciting than a laptop, a smart phone, or a newspaper. I see people typing, texting, talking to their neighbors, doing the word search puzzle. Many just stare into space. One woman, rather large and very loud, has made herself manager of the universe, or at least of this jury room, and informs latecomers what papers they’re supposed to fill and out and what they should do with them. I wonder if anyone is going to tell her what she can do with the papers. I wonder if anyone else is writing a blog. I do know one thing: saying I’m a blogger won’t make this go away.

It Used To Be Easier to Avoid Jury Duty.

Once upon a time, and I know this for a fact, if you were married to a lawyer, you could get an automatic exemption. Now, lawyers themselves can sit on juries. They’ll take practically anyone — these days, and very few excuses will stand up in court, so to speak.

I have a confession to make. . .

I once met a judge in Puerto Rico at the craps table who got me out of jury duty for years. Hey! I was running a small business. It actually would have been a hardship to serve. But after I sold the company and had some time, I answered the call and ended up on a civil case that lasted close to two weeks. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think. In fact, it was interesting to see how the system worked, or didn’t, and we had some fun lunches at those cheap Chinese restaurants near the courthouse.

So here I was back again. Doing what else? Waiting.

After about 3 hours, I remember what my friend Susan, who happens to be the wife of a lawyer —which is not an excuse for anything any more — had told me about timing: that I picked the perfect week, right before Easter and Passover, because judges don’t like to start trials before holidays. This was all a total coincidence, of course. I chose the last possible date after one postponement, and that was today. And now it’s lunch break, without a trial in sight, although a few tribulations have been had by all.

It’s a beautiful spring day, so I wander around a bit, ending up at a weird trattoria, seated across from an oil painting depicting dogs and cats dining at a much nicer restaurant, all because I didn’t feel like egg rolls and I had spied a fellow would-be juror walk purposely into this place. I figured he knew the joint, and it must be good. Turns out he just wanted a drink and this was the former location of a gin mill. I had been planning on having herb tea, but settled for Dewars on the rocks and judge myself a better woman for it, although if the pasta in this place ever goes on trial, it will end up at Sing Sing.

Saved By My Smart Phone

Meanwhile, back in the jury room, I continue writing my blog. I can’t remember the exact episode of SATC and want to make sure I’ve got it right.  Bingo! (Or Bing? Actually, I used Google), I find out that it was “Hop, Skip And A Week,” and get a detailed synopsis that gives me everything I need to know about The Man And His Mango.

Jeez, this phone is something.

After that, I shop for shoes, look up Doc Martin, a series I’ve become addicted to on PBS, text, check Facebook to see who’s liking whose photo today, like I care, and wait a minute! There’s going to be an announcement. Made by the nice lady at the desk (Yes, Virginia, there are nice ladies at the courthouse) who says that this will make us happy.

Ho boy, does it.

We’re all dismissed because there are no trials. Yes!

It’s spring. I’ve been sprung. Life is good.

Meanwhile, Back At Law And Order

LOVerticalPoster“See you all in four years,” says the nice lady, as we all rush for the exits. Not if I can get a postponement, I think.

But with a slight, emphasis on the slight, twinge, emphasis on the twinge, of regret, I think: maybe if I would have gotten to play I, The Jury (I think that title is taken) on some really interesting case, and if I was the hold-out juror, like in Twelve Angry Men and if I wrote a bestseller about it which would be optioned for a movie and . . . Nah.

Better to go out into the sunshine and enjoy the day. Later, after a dinner that will surely be better than lunch (the bar is set so low), I can relax and satisfy any of my lingering jury jones by watching all the Law and Orders all I want. I always have a bunch recorded on DVR for times like this.

It’s more fun than real life because you can fast forward the action (no waiting), and you don’t have to make those pesky decisions like is the guy guilty or whether you should lie when they ask if you can be impartial. I fantasized about wearing a T-Shirt with the words “They’re All Guilty,” or “Pot Rules” to see if that would get me disqualified. Would that have been legal? Would I have committed a crime? You be the judge. Or the jury . . .



One comment

  1. Revolutionary writing you have here.

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