Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today's Mood Is...

...with a second, voire dire sized serving of...

So, I am officially a contributing citizen of Baltimore, the self professed Greatest City in America. On Tuesday I was called for jury duty. I was called last year, too. Meanwhile, Wifey has not been called at least since the accident, and she is not sure if she was called before the accident, memories being somewhat fuzzy on details before then (although it is interesting to have THAT defined of a line of demarcation between things I remember and things I don't. It's like there is a mile marker on the road of her brain synapses, with a spike strip labeled "DO NOT PASS THIS POINT" in big red letters. I, on the other hand, have a rumble strip of "it probably happened while you were off getting a snack" whenever I cannot recall something). Is that fair? No. But what the hell can I do about it, besides mention to the court clerks that there is a viable juror just waiting for a summons (and luckily for her I did not think of that the other day).
I realized that it was going to be a long day when I heard the announcements commencing. Last time we had an earnest, if slightly too-energetic nice young lady informing us of our 8 hours of frivolity wrapped in a poorly air-conditioned package. In July. THIS time we had a man that had obviously fought life tooth and nail, raging against the dying of the light. And after he failed, he gave up and took a job with the city. I honestly think I heard more emotion from Droopy Dog before he got angry. If I am about to pass out from boredom within the first 15 minutes of arriving at a destination, there is probably going to be a problem before long.
It was made painfully clear that there were a lot of judges looking for juries. I have never served on a jury. And if I wasn't in the midst of a new job and new responsibilities I think that I would enjoy being on a jury. But with all of my extenuating circumstances, I knew that getting put on a jury would be bad for me.
So of course I was one of the first ones called for a jury pool.
I went off to the courtroom, hoping in vain to see either one of the lawyers I know from working with Bloom and Associates or (even better) C3PO the Translator Lawyer so I could immediately be excused. That was a no-go. So I waited while the judge (the name escapes me, but I am hoping that C3PO will recognize him from this description) went through the whole process. And whenever there was a lull in activity, he felt the need to do his best impression of Cliff Clavin, telling all of us about all the things that someone might find fascinating about local law and the history of the buildings (technically I was no longer in the Circuit Court building, but in the Post Office building / former federal court house across the street). It took almost 4 1/2 hours for him and the lawyers to decide on 6 jurors and 3 alternates (this being a civil case). I was dismissed for lunch around 1pm, and told I had to report back to the jury collection area by 2pm, because they were not done with us, yet.
I walked about the city for the majority of my hour, feeling semi-hungry but not seeing anything I wanted to eat. I even went down to the Inner Harbor to see if one of the places there would pique my fancy. Nothing. So I hit the 7-11 on the way back and got a bag of chips and some Gatorade.
I went back to the collection area and waited. After about 10 minutes one of my fellow jurors denied the first time decided to sit down next to me. She was fairly attractive, but the over-riding feeling that one got from her is BAT SHIT CRAZY. If I wasn't married, I would have had a bit of curiosity towards the one and done bedroom escapade that I get the feeling could have ensued if I had pursued it (why one and done? Because I am fairly sure that she is the kind to give you an incredible night of torrid passion, followed by ritualistic murder and then skinning / using body parts for either meals or voodoo potions). To be honest, I was more turned off by the thought of it than anything, and tried to make my wedding band VERY noticeable as I held my book and read it.
Eventually (at 3:15pm for the love of God) I was called for ANOTHER jury pool.
Now I need to let you know that I would never lie in order to get out of doing my civic duty. Usually.
For those who have never been subjected to the pain that is jury duty, the pool of potential jurors is asked a series of questions as a group, and if you intend to answer a certain way then you stand. When asked you give your juror number. Both lawyers and the judge make note of it, then you are sometimes called to approach the bench if any one of the aforementioned note takers decide that they want more information on any particular answer. Well, the second case was an assault case, with a weapon used. When the judge asked if anyone in my immediate family had been either a perpetrator or a victim of a crime I stood up. I stood up because my sister and my brother-in-law, while at the bank one day many years ago (and with my at the time very young nephew in tow) stood there in the lobby while the bank was robbed. It was all very scary for them, and rightfully so. I also answered that I had a working relationship with law enforcement (and as a member of the security force at Bullseye Inc. I am in fact in contact with the local police on a regular basis). I was called up to the bench to expound on my answers. I answered the first question (about law enforcement). It seems my answers frustrated the judge (this one was kind of a crab). And he took a bit of an attitude with me. So I took one back with him. Nothing disrespectful. But when he asked me if I would be able to look at the evidence and the witnesses without any bias, I told him a truth. Not the truth, but A truth. The truth is, probably. If forced to answer with a yes or no, I would have said "yes". But A truth was that I cannot truthfully answer that question, because I cannot know in advance what the evidence will trigger inside of me. It is like saying to a person "I have something to tell you. You have to promise not to get mad". I cannot promise something like that. Anger is an emotion. That cannot be controlled like that. Likewise, I cannot say 100% that I would not be affected by evidence presented to me in a visceral manner, and that response might cause me to make a connection that causes me to not be able to look at it with total impartiality.
What? It IS a truth.
Well, if you guessed that they skipped right over me as even a potential juror that was to be given final approval by both teams, you made the right call.
And I am not going to have to think about any of this again until at least mid-October of 2009. And THAT is the kind of parole I can live with, for at least the next 364 days.


  1. Your first judge was most likely Judge Nantz, who likes to tell how the marble in Courthouse East is from the Vatican.

  2. That sounds like a WINNAH! I distinctly remember multiple mentions of Vatican marble. And with SUCH energy and conviction!