The Naughty Confessions of an Unpicked Juror
Today, yet again, I showed up for jury duty like the responsible citizen that I am, only to be spurned yet again, like an unpopular, ugly kid at a high-school dance.
Getting summoned to juror pools is something of a second profession for me. I don’t know what it is about my luck, or the way my personal identification numbers jut out in the fishbowl that make them so irresistable to select, but I’ve been called to jury duty four times in the past seven years.
Yet I never get picked for a jury, for all my schlepping to the courthouse.
The funny thing is, I genuinely want to serve. I know what’s expected of me. I find it interesting, and think I could apply the law to the case and not get suckered in by emotion or other things I’m not supposed to pay attention to.
The court systems in my jurisdictions, however, beg to differ. They continue to taunt, tease, and smack me around.
In New York City, the location of my first summons, I sat in a jury pool for 3 days before being dismissed. In those 3 days I made it to two different courtooms. In the first one, they filled up the jury box and alternates before they asked me any questions at all.
In the second one, the judge informed us that the trial would be six weeks long, and asked anyone who couldn’t be on a jury for six weeks to approach the bench and explain the situation. Every normal looking person in the jury pool did so (I like to include myself in that group), and the judge dismissed all of us, leaving a very curious demographic indeed to decide the fate of the defendant.
After moving to Florida, I received a juror summons right away. This time I made it to two courtooms. The first was another extended trial. I explain for work reasons it would be impossible for me to serve. They seemed to buy that, even though they told us they wouldn’t.
In the second courtroom I was intentionally humiliated by an attorney in front of my other potential jurors in a Sarah Palin-like anti-intellectual maneuver.
The defense attorney asked all of us what our definition of “reasonable” was. He made jokes the whole time. He thought he was on Letterman, this guy. So he gets to me and I say “pragmatic.” He rolls his eyes and says “Dictionary word!” whatever the hell that means, and everyone had a good laugh.
We were then informed that the case depended on a single eyewitness. I am strongly against deciding the fate of a man based on a single person’s point of view recalled from a stressful, traumatizing experience. A few other people felt the same way, and we were told we were bringing in subjectivity into the courtroom or something like that. The attorneys and judge seemed to get all frustrated with us for some reason, and booted us out.
The third summons I received was about a year ago and I flat out forgot to show up for jury duty. I called an attorney friend and he said, “You’re in big trouble.”
So I called the juror number and they told me I wasn’t needed anyway, and I was excused for another round, but delicately suggested in a smiley, sugary voice not to do it again or they’d hold me in contempt of court.
Almost a year to the day after my no-show, I received yet another juror summons, which brings us full circle to this morning. I drove about 40 minutes to the courthouse, sauntering into the jury room 30 minutes late. I’m a little blasé about jury duty at this point, as you might understand.
The jury room was empty save for several hundred red-cushioned chairs. Apparently I was supposed to call after 5PM the day before, which, of course I neglected to do. Had I called, I would have been informed that all of us serving for January 14th had been excused.
Mark my words. In precisely one year, I’ll receive another summons. And I have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually participating in a trial.