Friday, August 22, 2014

"Countdown To Jury Duty III"

I dodged another bullet.

The cylinder has been spun, and now twice, the “Jury Duty” gun has gone “Click” instead of “Boom!”  Though unlike “Russian Roulette” where the gun inevitably goes “Boom!” – or the audience gets its money back – the “Jury Duty” gun “Clicks” five times, and you’re off the hook. 

Which is an entirely healthier arrangement.  (As well as a less than perfect analogy.)

Still, for a worrier like myself, pushing things off is emotionally excruciating.  Imagine a scheduled heart surgery where the surgeon comes down with a cold, triggering a last-minute rescheduling. 

PATIENT:  “Five days to heart surgery.  “Four days to heart surgery.”  “Three days to heart surgery.”  “Two days to heart surgery.” 

Oops, he’s sick.  Postponed for a week.

PATIENT:  “Nine days to heart surgery.”  “Eight days to heart surgery.”  “Seven days to heart surgery.”  “Six days to heart surgery…”

Can you imagine how agonizing that feels?  If you’re a worrier like I am?

Of course, that is also an imperfect analogy because, unlike the possibility of being relieved of Jury Duty completely, like the “Russian Roulette” “Boom!” your heart surgery is inevitably going to happen.  There is no, “The doctor was sick for a week, so no heart surgery.”  It does not work that way.  And neither do accurate analogies.

Three more days, requiring me to call in.   Time for a worrier like I am to think.  Dwell.  Evaluate.  And obsess.

The question of ”Sartorial Strategy” floats to mind.

“And now, for your listening pleasure, a medley of clothing options that will relieve me of Jury Duty.”

This concern overlooks two intervening hurdles – One:  That you are actually called, which three more “We don’t need you’s” and I won’t be – and Two:  Once called, that you are specifically empaneled, meaning you are included in a larger than needed jury panel from which the jurors and alternates are finally selected.  Many people go to Jury Duty and they sit in a room all day, never being empaneled, receiving seventeen dollars for their Jury Service, and then they go home. 

Cackling maniacally.

“Nyah-hah-hah-hah.  I beat ‘em!”

This may be a good time – though it is possibly too late – to repeat that I am not desirous of evading my civic obligations, only my civic obligations related to Jury Duty.  It would be entirely acceptable to me to perform “Alternative Services” for my community.  Clean up trash at the beach.  Read to a blind person who wants to be read to.

CONTRARIAN BLIND PERSON:  “Will you stop that!?  I am trying to think!

I am willing to sacrifice for my community.  Just not doing Jury Duty.  The question we now return to is,

“What could you wear to the courthouse to get out of it?”

This one is difficult for me, due to my conservative taste in clothing.  It is not easy blowing people’s minds with a closetful of “Earth Tones.” 

JURY SELECTOR:  “Beige and brown.  Soothing.  But not disqualifying.”

Since a plaid and paisley “Gross-Out Parade” is not on the table, what remains in the sartorial department is “Personal Grooming.”   I suppose I could mess a little with that.  Mismatched socks, for example.  “Accidentally” putting the third button into the second buttonhole, creating a hopefully concerning “This guy cannot even button his shirt right” impression.  I would, however, steer clear of  “leaving your fly open.”  Not because it’s disgusting, but because it’s a cliché.

JURY SELECTOR:  “We’ve seen that already.  You’re in.”

Wait, I just remembered.  There’s a third hurdle before actual Jury Duty.  There’s what they call the voir dire, where the empanelled jurors are all interviewed.  For me, the voir dire is like that “Escape Moment” they have at “Space Mountain” at Disneyland

Last chance to get off before the “Big Scary Ride.”

What I want to tell them is the truth.  That I feel uncomfortable sitting in judgment over other people’s behavior.  (And if it’s simply a matter of “following the law”, I’d like to ask what they need a jury for altogether.)

I want to tell them that I am truly skeptical of the “Adversarial System”, believing that the advantage in that procedure goes  – unfairly in my view, and possibly unjustly as well – to the superior attorney.

My concern is that those issues might never come up.  My mind then proceeds to the story a friend of mine named Dennis once told me about getting deferred from combat duty in Viet Nam by proclaiming that he could not wait to get over there and start killing people.  Maybe that’s my way out – to arrive at the courthouse carrying a noose!

Thoughts – not all of them rational – that arise while awaiting the impending interruption of my personal freedom.

The next call is tonight.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

The thing is, Earl, you're the kind of thoughtful, concerned person we *want* on a jury.


Mary Pason said...

Stop showering a few days prior to the Voire dire. Maybe a week before your premier. That may get you off the list.