Sunday, March 22, 2009

One of 12

Making my last week on the job with my current company even more golly gee swell, I got a letter a couple of weeks ago telling me I was been offered the opportunity to serve my friends and neighbors. So, instead of heading into work I'm heading over to the county courthouse for juror orientation.

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. 


Meghan said...

In my head jury duty is hilarious and intriguing. I sense the truth is otherwise. You'll have tp share stories.

FoggyDew said...

Meghan - I'm getting ready right now for my first day of a two week term. Happy, happy. Joy, joy. And you can be sure I'll dish.

Fearless in Toronto said...

One of the fringe benefits of being a lawyer in Ontario is never having to sit on a jury. Ya know, because we're tainted for life.

LiLu said...

Please manage to sneak a camera in there. Or at least get a pad of paper and draw us some of those "journalistic sketches" they do when cameras aren't allowed inside. And, yanno, draw liberally.

Shannon said...

The one time I've had jury duty in DC, I wasn't placed on either trial. Reason? I had enormous giggle fits, right there in the courtroom.

FoggyDew said...

Fearless - That kinda-sorta works here. Here you have to be a "licensed, practicing attorney" to get off the hook. There were four today who played that card.

LiLu - Letsee, ummmm, how 'bout "no" on the whole camera thing. They don't even let you bring your cell into the courthouse. As for the sketches, well, believe it or not, they don't allow you to take notes either in most cases. How 'bout I draw a picture with words? Would that work?

Shannon - I remember that, didn't the case have something to do with a botched circumcision?

Ella said...

i've never been selected for jury duty, but when i am, i fully plan on using the "my dad was in law enforcement for 35 years and i believe in the death penalty" card. one or the other parts has gotta work.

FoggyDew said...

Ella - A good answer, but one that will only get you recycled into the jury pool for another trial. That is if you get the chance to give that answer. First rule they teach you in law school: never ask a question you don't know the answer to.

JoLee said...

how is it that my future husband got a jury notice last week and he's from frigging CANADA! I thought there were rules against that.

Hannah said...

You mean trials aren't exactly like "Boston Legal", with all the smug, rapscallion lawyers badgering people on the stand, solving the case within an hour and then congratulating themselves on a roof with martinis? (When their not having sex in the files room or cross dressing that is!)

Well, I certainly feel deceived! LOL.;)

FoggyDew said...

JoLee - If he's got a Green Card, he's on the hook for jury duty just like he's on the hook for taxes. If he doesn't, I'm calling my brother who works for ICE. (Kidding on that last part.)

Hannah - To the best of my knowledge, Boston isn't even like Boston Legal. One of my best friends is an attorney and was so busy this past winter he wasn't even able to pull himself away for a hockey game. On a Friday night! Of course, he could have been in the file room the whole time, but I'm pretty sure his wife would kill him if this were the case.