If you were on twitter the past few days, you might’ve tweaked to the fact that I was at jury duty (I only tweeted during breaks! Really!!). (And watch out, ’cause jury duty seems to be going around. First it was Sandy, then me. And rumor has it, Dawn is up next.)
So I spent Tuesday afternoon and most of Wednesday doing my civic duty like the good little citizen that I am (full disclosure: I’m a county employee…I have no excuse. Since there are oodles of us and we get paid for being there, we’re pretty much the daily supply of fresh meat for our county courts).
This year, instead of five days of telephone standby, I actually had to appear for jury selection for an attempted murder trial. There were also burglary charges and assault charges and a bunch of other shit (that’s a legal term, you know), so it’s sure to be a doozy of a case. Oh, and if the defendant was found guilty, there would be a phase two to the trial to determine if he was insane. This last bit didn’t sit well with a number of potential jurors, and the rest of us poor schmucks were treated to HOURS of argument as to why this confused them/pissed them off/confused them maybe or maybe not, they weren’t really sure they just had a few more questions and comments because how can he plead not guilty but then say oh hey if I am guilty now decide if I’m insane and not accountable for my actions blah blah blah before they were FINALLY excused.
I swear there was a communal sigh of relief when Potential Juror #4 left the building this morning. Also…dude was late. Who the fuck shows up late to court?!? I was ready to slap him with contempt charges.
I would make a helluva judge, no? Since I already have umpteen pairs of black shoes, I think this is a good career move for me.
Ahem. Back to my story. Not that I have a story. More like jury duty blabbering. Or perhaps a cautionary tale on how not to piss off your fellow potential jurors. Because I am here to tell you Potential Juror #4 is NOT a popular guy.
This was the fourth jury selection I’ve sat through (I’ve also served on one jury…it was for attempted murder, too, which might possibly explain why I am not on this jury. Then again, it could be because they knew I was daydreaming about their reactions if I donned my Emergency Clown Nose), and it was by far the most traumatic of them all. Not for me, but for many, many others. I was actually shocked at how personal the lawyers got during voir dire. There were at least two people crying during the questioning. And yes, they could have asked for the questioning to be done in private, but it seemed like everyone and their brother wanted to tell their life story (or their sister’s life story, or their ex-wife’s life story, or their cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend’s kid’s story, or the story of that neighbor they had once, 15 years ago) (and I’m only exaggerating on the cousin…it was just their cousin’s daughter. FOR REALS!). I now know waaaaaaaay more than I ever wanted to know about approximately 80 people (and their not so immediate families) that I’ve never met and never want to meet again.
That’s right, 80 people. And when I was excused late in the afternoon (offed by the defense with a peremptory challenge for the win!), it was starting to look like they might have to call in more people if they wanted to get their jury. But that’s their problem, because I am done for the year. I practically skipped out of the courtroom. Because really, one attempted murder trial in my lifetime is enough.
So I know you all really want to know the most important thing: how much reading did I get done??
Well, all that drama made focusing on my book very difficult at times, so I didn’t read as much as I had hoped. (And also because I felt like I needed to pay partial attention whenever the judge said something, or when the DA asked someone a new question, because he had a distressing tendency to pick random people and ask them what they thought about everything so far…when it was my turn in the jury box (and when you’re one of 20 people left, you know it’ll be your turn soon) I didn’t want to admit to ignorance. I can’t help it if I’m intimidated by authority figures!).
But I still managed to read almost 200 pages of IT, which I highly recommend if you ever get called to jury duty, because reading about both clowns and grisly murders while at a courthouse is highly apropos.
In other words…Jury Duty? Consider joining the IT-along!*
*Yes, it really is possible to relate everything to clowns. Or clown noses.