Delusions of Grand Jury (pt 1)

Part of the reason I decided to to start blogging…again is because I was summoned to jury duty. I received my summons at the same time one of my favorite bloggers (Yoonanimous, you need to be reading this) also was summoned to jury duty and blogged about it. I was all like “OMG we’re civic duty twinzies!” in the comments of her blog. She gently encouraged me to stop trolling the comments section of her blog (never! I love it too much), and take my adventures onto a blog of my very own, which is what you’re reading write now.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to be on a jury ever since my mom was on a jury and she told me that she was being paid $11 a day. And this was back in ’93, so we’re talking about some serious cash here. At the time I had never even considered that being paid such astronomical sums was even possible. What couldn’t an 8 yo buy with $11 a day? I submit that there is nothing.

In the intervening years, I’ve watched a lot of dramatizations of court proceedings on TV. I was/am an avid fan of The Practice, Family Law (Dixie Carter 4 EVER), Judging Amy (Tyne Daly is so boss), Night Court, and Judge Judy. Since I was summoned to serve at the criminal court, I had a feeling this was going to be a Law&Order situation (SVU? Only time would tell). Regardless, having spent countless hours watching L&O marathons* on cable, I knew Dick Wolf had trained me well. Between that and the fact that I had put down a deposit for law school on three separate occaisons (’11, ’12, and ’13), but didn’t actually go; I knew I was really prepared.

*Note: You know how on USA/TNT/TBS they have those L&O:SVU themed marathons? Like L&O: Mistaken Identities weekend, or L&O: Femme Fatales. My dream job is to work for one of those bootleg stations and curate different Law&Order themed marathons. My first order of business would be a L&O: The Aughts: As told through the many hairstyles of Olivia Benson. I would argue that Olivia Benson was to the 2000s, what Jennifer Aniston was to the 90’s.*

Anway, if I had my L&O druthers, I would have a judge like Judith Light aka Judge Liz Donnelly. Judith Light is one of those actresses that I like to pretend is always playing the same woman just at a different part of her life. Who’s the BossUgly Betty, or L&O:SVU: it doesn’t matter, in my mind it’s all the same Judith. So whenever I turn on the TV and I see her I like to say to myself “Oh there’s that crazy Judith. What is she up to these days?” and then she tells me.

I’ve been a big Judith Light fan ever since her sitcom days. I always felt like she was, without question, the actual boss. Here was a woman wrestling with all the pressures of modern 80’s life as an ad agency exec, mother, and shoulder pad-wearer, all while taking care of her post-menopausal sex dynamo of a mother. Tony Danza just rolls up one day with his David Cassidy-esque feathered hair and tries to usurp her authority. IMHO she should have Game of Thrones-ed his ass. But eventually she went on to flourish as tough, but fair judge in the NYC criminal courts; and I thought that I would really flourish as a juror with someone like her presiding.

Who’s the boss?

She’s the boss

 If Judith Light was off the table, I definitely wanted to go the Night Court route. It was pretty early in the morning when I finally made it to the court, and there were no snacks in the jury assembly room, so I could really have used some Harry Anderson-John Larroquette-Markie Post shenanigans to kick-start* my day.

*Note to self: Remember to create actual Night Court-based project to submit for funding at kickstarter.com

Would you pay good money to help Kickstart (TM) a Night Court-themed something? Maybe a breakfast cereal?

Upon arriving at the Hall of Justice, I actually started to get nervous. I don’t know if it was the four separate bail bonds…stores?…enterprises?.. I don’t know what you call a place that sells bail bonds; or the crack heads out front, but suddenly I knew this was some serious shiz.

I made my way to the aforementioned jury assembly room (you’ll remember that I mentioned there were no snacks). It was filled with SFers from all walks of life. I knew that where I sat was going to be very important because that person would probably become my new friend. As I looked around, I realized the pickings were going to be slim, friend-wise. I spied on rather handsome gent, but then I realized that he was wearing a leather jacket and I swore I would never be friends with someone who would wear a leather jacket. I finally settled on a woman who looked like a trim Janet Napolitano. Everything was going great until I realized she had fallen asleep approximately 30 seconds after I sat down. When she awoke, she moved to another seat, leaving me totally vulnerable to whatever waste of life decided to sit down next to me.

Luckily, one of the clerks decided that it was time to get the show on the road. He explained that it was time for the juror orientation video, and walked over to the tube television, and slid the VHS tape into the VCR. This video could not have been made any later than the Mesozoic Era. We were greeted by a “former juror” who I can only assume had just unloaded his Conestoga wagon and was on his way to pan for gold with the other gold rush prospectors when he was selected for jury duty.

“We take crime just as seriously here in the California Territory as they do in the 30 states. After all, this is a post-Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo world we’re living in,” he wheezed. I swear I’ve seen daguerreotypes of more recent vintage.

Ok, so he didn’t really say that. I don’t really remember what he said because another potential juror sitting to my right was blowing his nose and leaving his snotty Kleenex in a pile on the coffee table between us. I was fairly certain that that kind of behavior would get him promptly ejected from service.

The clerk came back and informed us that the pay was $15/day plus $2 for transit costs…unless you’re a public employee. WHAT!?! I work for the government. My 8 yo dreams came crumbling down right before my eyes. Jury duty, as it turns out, is not the ticket to fame and fortune I had imagined.

Then the clerk started calling names and telling folks which court to report to. As the clerk read the first list of names, I heard one that sounded like mine. Could it be me? Did I just mishear the last name? I’d better check. No, not me? OK, time to regroup, pee, and think about how I really want a snack. Oh wait, next list. Nope, not called again.

Don’t they see how justice flows through my veins? Maybe I should mention how I almost went to law school three separate times. Ah Ha! Called on the third list.

My fellow potential future jurors and I all filed down to Dept. 27 and sat in the gallery, where the judge and two attorneys were already waiting for us. A new clerk welcomed us and then said she was going to call 24 names at random for preliminary question…and my name was chosen!

Of course I was chosen. If you had to choose 24 names at random, wouldn’t you choose mine?

I was juror #8, and I swore that I would be the greatest juror #8 that ever rendered a verdict

Stay tuned until next time; when an actual trial happens!

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