Tuesday, November 18, 2008

my day in court

I was a good citizen yesterday. Well, actually, I was a fair citizen yesterday. I arrived at my post as prospective juror only five minutes late, and promptly handed my completed paperwork over at the sign-in desk. Of course, I hadn't read the fine print which mandated I send the paperwork to the court a week ahead of time so they could vet me for Grand Jury status.

Nevermind, they sent me along to the adjoining office where I was processed and given my very cool UPC coded juror badge, held in place by a plastic landyard. The jury pool room was filled up, but there were still some empty seats--and plenty of coffee and pastries. I pulled out my laptop and got to work while a judge addressed us all with the "you're so special" speech they pull out to stir the citizens into a froth of self-congratulation. I was distracted because I couldn't get online. But then the Master of Ceremonies announced the existence of the security code, and I became impatient for him to finish so I could push my way through the other good citizens and retrieve it.

Soon, the m.c. read a list of 35 potential Grand Jurors. They were cleaved from our ranks and, happily, there was now a spot open on the long table where the outlets were. Good thing, because my battery was about to die and I still had a couple of hours of client work to do. I sat next to a guy who was in a similar situation, only he had the balls to be on a conference call! (He was whispering into his cell phone trying not to bring attention to himself and the other members of his call were screaming at him to "speak up").

Another merry band of citizens was soon culled. Then another, and another. Every digit I had was crossed so I wouldn't have to go up and maybe be selected. The last time I was a juror, it was for a rape case, and it was nasty. I kept thinking of catch phrases that would definitely be cause for immediate dismissal during the lawyer q and a, while not being so overtly offensive as to cause the other citizens to look at me askance.

We were dismissed to lunch so off I went, into the beautiful blue sky, me and my rolling briefcase of work. I played downtown "zig zag" all the way to the library to avoid the Green Peace workers on the various corners. Some people congratulated me on my walk, because I still had the juror tag around my neck. I read a few issues of Publisher's Weekly at the library and then bought a salad at a nearby shop and ate it with a plastic fork--which I hate.

That afternoon, they promised more juries would be assembled. I continued working, talked on the phone, went to the rest room, got more free coffee. There were only a dozen or so of us left in the room.

At 3:15, the m.c. got up and announced that due to our diligence (more p.r.) all the afternoon cases had been negotiated out of court. I was trying to make the connection to diligence and settling out of court, but, no matter. We were free to go!

Moral of the story: show up for jury duty late, and with unprocessed paperwork. Enjoy the wi-fi, coffee and donuts.

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