I'm actually not kidding, I really can't think of a better way to spend the last week on a job than on jury duty (except vacation, that'd work too). I get paid and I don't have to go in and help clean up the place.
Although, my time as a juror almost didn't happen. I got my summons in February. Early February. And then promptly forgot about it with everything else going on (yanno, losing the job and all that). It wasn't until last Tuesday, during dinner with friends at La Lomita, I was reminded of my civic duty.
“Blah blah blah blah like how they always show Ken Burns shows while you're on jury duty blah blah blah,” my friend Mike said from across the chips and salsa.
“Huh?!? What!?! What was that you said?!? Oh. Holy. Shit!! IhaveJuryDuty!! IForgotIWasSupposeToReportForJuryDuty!!!! WhenWasISupposeToReportForJuryDuty?!?!?! AmIGoingToGetArrested?!?!?!”
Sudden. Total. Overwhelming. Panic. Attack.
OK, at least as sudden and total a panic attack as I can have. I'm pretty low-key and generally unflappable. But the thought was there nagging in my head.
All night long. Like an itch I couldn't scratch.
But, as the Lord looks after fools and drunks and I am thus dual-qualified, turns out Mike's comment gave me the warning I needed to avoid an unpleasant session with a county judge for skipping jury duty. Thanks Mike, I owe you a beer or two for keeping me out of jail.
Aside from judges, lawyers and cops, I've probably spent more time in courtrooms than most people covering this case or that. In fact, I've personally sat through five death penalty cases that ended 4-1 in favor of the needle. What? You're surprised? It was Texas after all.
If there's one thing all my time in courtrooms has taught me it's this: Trials in real life are nothing like they are on TV. Lawyers don't trip up witnesses, it's rarely exciting and it's never, ever over in an hour. Hell, it sometimes takes 20 minutes just to establish the chain of evidence for a single exhibit or establish a witnesses' credentials.
Here's the other thing I've learned: Innocent people almost never end up in a courtroom. Defendants on trial are usually the ones who A) couldn't cut a deal and plea out or, B) Think they can beat the charges.
But it's like I said, this is usually the case. You never know when you'll come across an honest man or someone who's been wrongly charged.
If nothing else, I'll definitely have a story or two to tell. When it's all over of course, I wouldn't want to do anything illegal.